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Do I have any recourse to file a lien since I provided materials and are not being paid for the lost materials?

Alabama

I provided furniture to a staged-house to help with the sale of a house. While the furniture was still in the house, some chairs and artwork and other furniture was stolen out of the house. (This probably could only be done by someone with a key). The contractor said they would pay, but now their insurance is not covering the losses. I have filed a police report and everything, but want to see if I have any lien rights.

1 reply

Jun 12, 2018
That's an interesting question. As an initial note, broadly, mechanics liens secure payment for the construction of "permanent" improvements to property. Of course, nothing is truly "permanent", but the point remains: if an improvement to property is not a lasting one, generally, lien rights will not be a good (or appropriate) avenue to secure payment. Anyway, the Alabama mechanics lien statute is a little more vague than most. Regarding lien rights, §35-11-210 of the Alabama lien statute states that lien rights are available to parties who "perform any work, or labor upon, or *furnish any material, fixture*, engine, boiler, waste disposal services and equipment, or machinery for any building or improvement on land, or for repairing, *altering, or beautifying* the same..." The bolded portions above, if very liberally interpreted, might seem to give rise to lien rights for more temporary and non-construction prerogatives. However, considering the penalties surrounding fraudulent mechanics liens, it's not wise to intentionally manipulate lien laws. Anyway, when payment is slow or not forthcoming at all, sending a demand for payment can be an effective measure. Two impactful ways to do this are (1) sending a Notice of Intent to Lien; and (2) sending a demand letter via an attorney. Regarding a Notice of Intent to Lien - this document can be very effective, even where lien rights might not quite be the right fit. The mere threat of a mechanics lien might be enough to compel payment, and that's exactly what a Notice of Intent to Lien does - it serves as a warning shot. It let's the owner know that if payment isn't made, a lien will be filed. Alternatively (or in a addition to a Notice of Intent), a demand letter that threatens legal action can go a long way, especially when sent through an attorney.
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