Menu
Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>Do I need a formal contract to file a lien? I have all emails and correspondence pertaining to the work. I also have before, during, and after pictures of the work as well as pictures of me doing the work.

Do I need a formal contract to file a lien? I have all emails and correspondence pertaining to the work. I also have before, during, and after pictures of the work as well as pictures of me doing the work.

OhioConstruction ContractMechanics Lien

Performed 3 weeks of labor sanding the wood floors in a home. When time came to stain and finish the floor, the customer became too difficult to work with (couldn't pick a color, didn't want to use the products we normally used, wanted me to use their products against manufacturer specifications, and then walked all over our prepped floor with dirty shoes setting us back another couple days)so in frustration I told him to just find someone else to do the stain/finish since he didn't want it done the way we do it and he could just pay us for the sanding. Now he's refusing to pay anything at all.

1 reply

Feb 14, 2018
I'm sorry to hear about that. First, I'll note that, prior to filing a lien, there are steps that can be taken to enforce payment without actually filing a mechanics lien such as a Notice of Intent to Lien or a demand letter. However, it's never a good idea to miss a deadline - if the deadline is approaching, filing a lien may be a claimant's safest bet. Anyway, under the Ohio mechanic lien statute, a written contract is not a prerequisite for filing a mechanics lien. Rather, the Ohio lien statute only requires that a contract be present. Unless a specific form or method is required, verbal contracts may be binding. What's more, it's become fairly generally accepted that emails can create contracts, even at times where the intent to formulate a contract might not have been present on both sides or where an email has not been "signed." While there are a number of reasons why a contract may or may not have been formed via exchanged emails, some important factors may sway that determination either way. Some of those factors could be: whether the intent to form a contract is obvious through the communications, whether the emails were "signed" by the parties, whether a specific price was included in the emails, whether the scope of work was defined via the emails, and whether a time frame for the project was given. That's certainly not an exhaustive list of important factors, but it's a good start. Ultimately, the best bet will be to have the communications reviewed by an attorney to try and determine whether a contract is present. Finally, it's worth noting that whether or not a lien can be filed and whether or not a filed lien will be valid may be two entirely different questions, and this seems like a case where there may be quite a bit of grey area. It's never a good idea to file a lien known to be invalid, fraudulent, or otherwise inappropriate, but when there's room to argue either way, filing a mechanics lien can be helpful in prompting payment that is due. Plus, if the lien is challenged, a claimant can decide whether to argue the lien's validity or to just have it released. We discuss the differences between fraudulent liens and honest mistakes in this article.
0 likes

Add your answer or comment

Not the answer you were looking for? Check out other Construction Contract topics or ask your own question