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if we provide labor to repair materials under a warranty claim, and we do not charge for it, does that action (providing labor) extend our lien rights?

PennsylvaniaLien Deadlines

we provided materials for a project in Philadelphia, and the subcontractor made a warranty claim against it. the materials shipped over 6 months ago but to date we have not been paid. We agreed to provide labor and materials, at no cost to the sub, to correct the problem. Does the action of providing labor and materials at no cost extend our lien rights? And based on that, what would constitute proof (ie. a zero dollar invoice?) that we still have lien rights if they are challenged later?

1 reply

Oct 25, 2018
I'm sorry to hear you've been going unpaid - everyone deserves to be paid what they've earned. As a general rule, punch list, warranty, and corrective work does not work to extend the deadline to file a mechanics lien. Rather, when a lien deadline is based off of "last furnishing", the deadline will run from the claimant's last work on the project under their contract. Pennsylvania appears to follow this general rule. Under § 1502(1) every lien claimant must "file a claim with the prothonotary as provided by this act within six (6) months after the completion of his work..." Further, the definition under § 1201(8) provides some clarity as to what's considered "completion" - under that section, “'Completion of the work' means performance of the last of the labor or delivery of the last of the materials required by the terms of the claimant’s contract or agreement, whichever last occurs." Of course, that does not mean unpaid amounts cannot be recovered. For one, a Notice of Intent to Lien can be effective - even where a lien filing might not be available. This is especially true considering a Notice of Intent to Lien is a required step of the Pennsylvania mechanics lien process. Receipt of such a notice indicates to the recipients that the claimant is serious about payment. It shows that, if payment is not made and made soon, a lien claim will be filed. Another option for recovery, albeit a riskier one, might be to proceed with the lien claim. While warranty, punch list, and corrective work do not typically work to extend a lien deadline, some claimants may find it's worth a shot. Recall, though, that mechanics lien deadlines are often strictly applied. Thus, filing a lien where the deadline is based on warranty work performed well after the date that'd otherwise be considered last furnishing could certainly result in an invalid lien claim. Finally, other options such as a claim under prompt payment laws, breach of contract, or unjust enrichment could be available - and sending a demand letter based on those claims can often result in payment without the need for legal action.
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