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How to remove a false lien

Virginia
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Anonymous contractor
Oct 4, 2020

The contractor told us he was licensed. Afterwards he told us his father is but he’s not. He never finished the contract. He put in a 6 x 6 slab of cement which in the contract is suppose to be an 8x 8. He told us after calling him for two weeks he never wanted to hear from us again, and we would have to finish the work. After 70 days we wrote a letter to terminate him because he did not finish the contract, and hadn’t worked on the project for more than 70 days. Two weeks after we sent the letter we got a mechanics lien put on our property stating we owed him $2,000.00 dollars for the 6 x 6 slab of cement he put in that was not done to specifics of a 8 x 8 slab in the contract. We don’t know what to do. We feel this is a false lien, and we don’t owe anything because what he put down was not in the contract it was supposed to be an 8 x 8 and he put in a 6 x 6. What do we do. It’s been 10 years and he never took us to court.

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Anonymous contractor
Oct 6, 2020

I am sorry to hear about the issues you are having. Unfortunately, this is a question we get often in the expert center. However, traditionally if a contractor/subcontractor is not licensed, they lack mechanics lien rights and won't be able to enforce the lien. In Virginia specifically, if a party is performing work that contractors and subcontractors are required to be licensed to do, and that party is not licensed, they are not entitled to lien rights. In your case, the lien was likely never enforced considering 10 years have gone by. 

Another popular question we get often is in regards to whether a lien affects the property title forever and/or how to remove a mechanic lien from the property . When a mechanics lien is filed on a project, it becomes nearly impossible for the property owner to sell or take out a loan against that property. However, typically how long the mechanics lien enforcement period is will how long the lien will affect the property title. Once the period of enforcement has ended, the lien's ability to wreak havoc on the property title ends. In Virginia, an action to enforce a mechanics lien must be initiated before the later of 6 months from filing the lien, or 60 days from the completion or termination of the project. Again, considering you stated this lien was placed on your property 10 years ago, the enforcement period is long gone. Therefore, the lien placed on your property should not affect the property title. 

Once a lien expires or if the dispute has been resolved, a property owner should demand the party that placed the lien to remove the now-invalid lien, a process known as "lien removal" or "release of lien." If a party refuses to remove a lien that is now invalid, there are other methods for an owner to have lien removed but it can take more money, likely involving a lawsuit. A Virginia construction lawyer can assist you if you need to file a suit to remove the invalid lien. 

Good luck!

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