Contractor owes me $2,980. Will filing a lien help. Its only good for one year. Cost alot to try to foreclose. I am a subcontractor can i bring owner to small claims court also.shoukd i get attorney to help me with small claims.
Apr 9, 2020
Generally, in order to file suit against someone there needs to be some connection between the party filing the lawsuit and the party being sued. When a suit arises from a breach of contract, like when one party performed work but didn't get paid according to the contract, the suit is only appropriate between the parties to the contract itself. This is a concept called "privity" of contract, and it generally disallows a subcontractor from suing the property owner directly when the sub is unpaid. Usually, the proper parties are the sub and the GC who hired the sub. The owner has an obligation to the GC, who has an obligation to the sub - but the owner does not have an obligation (absent other factors) directly to the sub.
In construction, this can be changed. A mechanics lien encumbers the improved property itself, and since the owner has an interest in the property, the owner, through the property itself, can be roped into these obligations despite not having a contract directly with the sub. Much of the power of a mechanics lien is that it obligates parties other than the party with whom the claimant directly contracted, and the ability to recover the amount owed through foreclosure of the property is very powerful.
In many cases, liens can get you paid without needing to file suit to enforce the lien. Property owners do not want liens on their property, and often a lien can result in payment with no litigation required. Additionally, if the choice is between filing a lien and initiating a lawsuit directly, filing a lien can be a relatively inexpensive way to try to get paid before the lawsuit step (with the associated time and expense) is needed.
Another way to minimize the time and expense of a lawsuit is to file in small claims court. However, if you are enlisting the services of an attorney to help you out, there are still legal fees involved, as well as the court's filing (and service) fees. While small claims is sometimes a good option, it is still a lawsuit - so you need to make sure that's the path you want to take.