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Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>If we as buyers purchased and installed windows and shingles on a home that we have now chosen to walk away from (purchase agreement is long expired; window and shingle install happened in April) can we file a materials lien against the property if the party who is financing the project refuses to reimburse us?

If we as buyers purchased and installed windows and shingles on a home that we have now chosen to walk away from (purchase agreement is long expired; window and shingle install happened in April) can we file a materials lien against the property if the party who is financing the project refuses to reimburse us?

MinnesotaMechanics LienRecovery OptionsRight to Lien

It is very messy and complicated.

1 reply

Jul 31, 2019
I'm really sorry to hear about that. Generally, the answer is yes - those who provide labor and material to a construction project but don't get paid for their work will typically have the right to file a mechanics lien to recover what they're owed. Keep in mind, though, there are some strict notice and deadline requirements that come into play which we'll get into below.

Minnesota mechanics lien deadline
First - the deadline. The timeframe for filing a Minnesota mechanics lien is a pretty long one. Minnesota mechanics lien claimants must file their liens within 120 days of last furnishing labor or materials to the project. Note, though, this doesn't (necessarily) refer to the date when materials or tools were last picked up. Rather, it refers to the last date when labor was done or when materials were furnished in pursuit of the completion of the contract. We discuss that date in better detail here: What’s the ‘Date Labor or Materials Last Delivered’ and How Can I Prove It?

Preliminary notice required in most situations
Preliminary notice must usually be sent, and failure to send that notice could result in a loss of lien rights. Minnesota's notice rules are incredibly complex and can be pretty confusing. But, most parties hired by someone other than the owner must send a "pre-lien" notice in order to preserve the right to lien. For parties hired directly by the property owner, no pre-lien notice is required, but there must typically be some notice language included directly in the contract. You can learn more about notice rules here: Minnesota Pre-Lien Notice Requirements and Exceptions.

Filing a mechanics lien
If a mechanics lien does become necessary, there are important filing requirements. We discuss those in-depth at the following pages: (1) Minnesota Mechanics Lien Guide and FAQs; and (2) Mechanics Lien Minnesota: How to File a MN Mechanics Lien. Plus, keep in mind - mechanics liens are typically available even when payment will be coming from someone other than the owner.

Even if lien isn't available, other options may be
There are always other options for recovery outside of the mechanics lien process. For one, sending a document like a Notice of Intent to Lien can help make sure payment is made, even when a claimant doesn't actually intend on filing a mechanics lien. Because mechanics liens are such a powerful tool, most owners and lenders can't afford to ignore or underestimate the potential for a lien filing. As a result, a Notice of Intent to Lien is a good option for making sure recipients are taking the debt seriously. You can read more about that here: What Is a Notice of Intent to Lien and Should You Send One?

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