Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>I machine plant pine seedlings in South Carolina. We provide the equipment and labor to do this. Can I file a lien to collect for this type of work?

I machine plant pine seedlings in South Carolina. We provide the equipment and labor to do this. Can I file a lien to collect for this type of work?

South CarolinaRight to Lien

the owner owes us $7,000.00 dollars. I understand that you can file a lien for providing equipment and labor. That is exactly what we did.

1 reply

Apr 9, 2019
That's an interesting question. Before getting too far into the weeds, it's probably worth noting that regardless of whether a mechanics lien might be available, the mere warning or threat of lien can work to compel payment. By sending a document like a Notice of Intent to Lien, a claimant can inform the owner (as well as their contractor, if applicable) that if payment isn't made soon, they'll face a lien claim on their property. Because a mechanics lien is such a powerful remedy, many owners will be more willing to talk payment if they realize that a lien filing might be made due to their failure to make payment. You can learn more about that idea here: What is a Notice of Intent to Lien? Now, let's look at the availability of a lien. Generally, mechanics lien rights are available for those who perform construction work that permanently improves the project property but go unpaid for that work. While some work outside of typical construction work might be lienable, if the property isn't permanently improved by that work, mechanics lien rights generally won't arise. Looking to South Carolina statute, South Carolina is pretty uniquely broad about granting lien rights to those who provide plant material for the improvement of property. When "landscape service" is provided under written contract to the tune of $5,000 or more, lien rights will be available. § 29-5-26 of the South Carolina lien statute defines "landscape sevices" to include "(1) land clearing, grading, filling, plant removal, natural obstruction removal, or other preparation of land; (2) provision or installation, or both of them, of a landscaping item including plant material, mulch, paving, walkway, swimming pool, fountain, retaining wall, bulkhead, deck, patio, lightscaping system, irrigation system, drainage structure, drainage system, underground utility, or other feature incidental and necessary to a landscape plan or site design; or (3) both." Reading that section - it's not particularly clear whether planting seeds, even on a large scale, might suffice to give rise to mechanics lien rights. The argument could certainly be made that planting seeds is in line with other work that's lienable under the South Carolina mechanics lien statute, but the effectiveness of such an argument is hard to predict. Keep in mind, though - regardless of the availability of any mechanics lien rights, there are always other options for recovery. For more on South Carolina mechanics lien claims, this resource should be valuable: South Carolina Mechanics Lien & Notice Overview (Plus Statutes).
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