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Does SC restrict lien rights based on customer's licennse status?

South CarolinaLicensesMechanics LienRight to Lien

We're a subcontractor in South Carolina- having trouble getting final payment on a private job. The GC is not licensed but we are. Does South Carolina still offer lien protection for the vendors and subs of unlicensed Gcs?

1 reply

Jul 18, 2019
Great question. First, as you may know, in order to file a valid and enforceable mechanics lien, South Carolina lien claimants must hold the necessary licensure if a license is required for the work being performed. This is supported by § 29-5-15 of the state's mechanics lien statute.

However, that section only requires that a lien claimant hold the appropriate licensure, themselves. It's completely silent as to whether a licensed claimant who was hired by an unlicensed contractor would be entitled to file a lien. So, because the lien statute does not specifically prohibit a licensed claimant from filing a lien when their customer is unlicensed, it follows that such a claimant could likely file a valid and enforceable mechanics lien, regardless of whether their customer is properly licensed.

Of course, it's also worth keeping in mind that the mere threat or warning of a lien filing could compel payment and help avoid all of the headaches that come with a lien filing. More on that here: What Is a Notice of Intent to Lien and Should You Send One? For more information on South Carolina's mechanics lien deadlines and requirements, here's an awesome resource: South Carolina Mechanics Lien Overview
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