Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>I’m being threatened in writing and certified mail, that my property will be facing a lien because of a $500 construction debt that was not paid ... in New Jersey we had no contract and the job was not finished ... in fact in writing via text message the contractor told me he knows it’s not finished ... what to do?
I’m being threatened in writing and certified mail, that my property will be facing a lien because of a $500 construction debt that was not paid ... in New Jersey we had no contract and the job was not finished ... in fact in writing via text message the contractor told me he knows it’s not finished ... what to do?
The contractor said my disapproval of his work made him uncomfortable and felt I was too aggressive ... yet in the complaint he states that I stopped the work ?
Sep 23, 2019
In New Jersey, the construction project need not be finished in order for a mechanics lien filing to be made or initiated. If there are amounts owed but unpaid for construction work, then a valid and enforceable mechanics lien might be able to be filed - regardless of whether their work has been completed. Further, even when there's a dispute as to the workmanship on the job - it's possible to file a perfectly valid mechanics lien claim. More on that here: Can I File A Lien If My Workmanship Is In Dispute?
Importantly, though, a New Jersey mechanics lien claimant must have a written contract in order to file a valid and enforceable lien. So, if there's no written contract in place, an enforceable mechanics lien can generally not be filed - and an owner should be able to fend off a lien claim on that basis.
How to fend off the threat of a mechanics lien
It can be hard to fight off a New Jersey mechanics lien claim in an official or procedural way before that lien claim is actually filed. Though, pointing to specific reasons why the lien claim would be improper might help convince a lien claimant to hold off. This is especially true where an owner can show the claimant exactly how they'll challenge the filed lien and what damages and fees the claimant may be liable for if they file an improper mechanics lien.
The threat to bond off a filed mechanics lien shouldn't be all that scary to a claimant who's got a valid lien claim. But, where there are obvious flaws in the prospective claim, a lien claimant might be a little more scared of a bonded off lien. This is because, once a lien is bonded off, the party who bonded off that lien will generally have to file suit in order to enforce that claim. So, if there's a flawed lien and the claimant knows recovery is a long shot - they'll probably be less inclined to file suit on the bonded lien. And, of course, actually bonding off the lien is possible too.
Additionally, this article may be helpful: I Just Received a Notice of Intent to Lien – What Should I Do Now?Talking it out may be more helpful than official action
Before deciding to take official action like making legal threats, though, talking out the issue might be helpful. That's one of the benefits of receiving a warning before an actual lien is filed - the dispute can be resolved before tempers get too hot. In a situation where the dispute is relatively minor - like over $500 of work - it's probably worthwhile to try and discussed the matter civilly. After all, filing a New Jersey mechanics lien can be expensive (thus cutting into the amount owed), and defending against one will be expensive too. So, if both sides can calmly find a resolution, it would typically be in everyone's best financial interest.