A notice of Mechanics Lien Claim came in the mail, but it was for only $300. Pennsylvania states liens can only be placed that exceed $500. How do I get it removed using this knowledge?
Sep 11, 2017
You are correct that Pennsylvania limits the applicability of mechanics lien protection to claims of greater than $500. Additionally, there are many specific requirements that must be met in order for a claimed lien to be valid and enforceable. These requirements include: notice requirements (for parties that did not contract directly with the property owner), timing requirements, and filing and service requirements (Pennsylvania has strict service requirements after the lien has been recorded).
Failure to comply with any of the above requirements, including the $500 floor, can be enough to render the lien invalid / unenforceable.
Pennsylvania mechanics lien law provides for a procedure for contesting a lien claim that does not comply with the mechanics lien act. In order to do so, a party may file "preliminarily objections" to the claim with the court, and the court will make a determination (this may require the court to take evidence, if a question of fact is raised).
A property owner who has been made defendant in a procedurally or substantively defective lien, who has decided to file “preliminary objections” in an attempt to have the lien removed should set forth all bases for belief that the lien is improper. This may be done prior to the lien claimant initiating an enforcement action, and likely should be, to avoid the requirement to file a regular answer to the enforcement action.
This is an action in court, and while an individual may represent him/herself, it is rarely a good idea, and it may be worth while to enlist the services of an attorney. Additionally, there are generally prohibitions about business entities representing themselves in court actions.
Finally, there is potentially another option (that also requires a court action), as well. If the project was on a single or double residential project, and the owner has paid the GC the full contract amount, lien are disallowed. If a lien is filed in that instance, the owner can petition the court for an immediate discharge of the lien.