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I am a homeowner who wants to put a lien against abandoned property next door.

PennsylvaniaRight to Lien

I am a homeowner who wants to put a lien against my property next door. The house has been abandoned for about 3 years, owners deceased and no next of kin. Currently, the bank owns it, it has back taxes and will be on Sheriff Sale in July. I had to hire a landscaper to cut down 2 trees, they were over 2 stories high in back yard as it was causing damages to my roof and siding on my house. Then, there were squatters, after the police asked them to leave. Myself and a contractor had to purchase materials, seal up all of the windows and doors, they were starting to cause damage by stealing copper pipes and metal. This took several hours of labor. The cost of the tree removal was $500, as well as the materials for boarding and labor to hire

1 reply

May 8, 2019
I'm really sorry to hear about that - it must be incredibly frustrating to have to take care of someone else's property out of pocket. Generally, in order for mechanics lien rights to arise, there must be authorized work for the permanent improvement of real property. So, where the property owner has not authorized or requested that work be performed, it might be hard to argue that the work was actually agreed to by the property owner (thus giving rise to mechanics lien rights). Though, where an owner is aware that the property is being improved and has done nothing to stop the work or to disclaim responsibility for the work, a claimant may be able to argue that the work was, in fact, authorized by that owner. Further, keep in mind that in order for mechanics lien rights to arise, the work must exceed $500 in value, total. Keep in mind that, regardless of whether lien rights actually exist for a project, there are always other options that might help to recover payment. For one, putting the property owner on notice of the work provided and the amounts due for that work is probably a good start for obtaining payment. There's a chance that the dispute can be resolved without issue. If talking it out won't work, escalating the dispute might help. By sending a warning document like a Notice of Intent to Lien, parties who are owed payment for work performed can put the owner on notice that they're serious about obtaining payment. Plus, a lien warning can be sent regardless of whether a lien could or would ultimately be filed. But, if push comes to shove and payment still hasn't come, it may be worth consulting a local construction or real estate attorney to discuss how to recover the debt. They'll be able to take a deeper look into the situation and determine how best to proceed to recover payment. For more background on the rules of Pennsylvania lien law, this resource should be valuable: Pennsylvania Lien & Notice Overview.
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