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In Texas, how long after work is ended can a contractor file a lien?

TexasLien DeadlinesMechanics Lien

A contractor is threatening me with a lien 6 months after he quit my job (reconstruction after Harvey) and his charges are fraudelent because I paid in advance for all the work he did. After he left, he "removed" the Harvey discounts he had applied during the 1 year plus taht he worked on my house, and now says I owe him more.

1 reply

Apr 5, 2019
I'm really sorry to hear about that. Mechanics liens are intended to help construction businesses when they aren't paid what they're owed - but unfortunately, some bad actors try and use them as leverage to squeeze an owner for undue payment. In any event - let's look at (1) the Texas mechanics lien deadline, (2) what amounts are lienable, and (3) how owners might be able to fend off improper lien claims. In Texas, the deadline to file a mechanics lien on a residential project will be the 15th day of the 3rd month following the month in which the lien claimant last furnished labor or materials to the project. So, where a contractor has been off the job for several months, it's entirely possible that their window for filing a lien claim for unpaid work might have closed. For more information, these Texas Lien Deadline Calendars might be helpful: 2018 Calendar; 2019 Calendar. Next, let's look at what amounts are even subject to a mechanics lien claim. Generally, lien rights exist for amounts owed and unpaid for construction work performed which has permanently improved the project property. Amounts that exceed what is owed are not lienable, and they could even create liability for a lien claimant in the form of a fraudulent mechanics lien filing. In Texas, the penalty for filing a fraudulent mechanics lien is steep - a claimant could be liable for the greater of $10,000 or the actual damages incurred as a result of the claim. With all that being said, it can be hard to fight off a lien claim before it's even filed. Generally, county recorders' offices have neither the bandwidth nor the authority to investigate each claim made. So, when a claim is placed for recording with their offices, generally, the claim can be filed. However, one way owners may be able to fend off a lien claim before it's even filed might be to explain to the prospective lien claimant why their claim would be improper or even considered fraudulent (while also explaining the potential liability for a fraudulent lien claim). When such a letter is sent via an attorney, it tends to carry extra weight. Further, an owner might be able to secure a payment bond that would prevent a lien from attaching directly against their property - though, securing such a bond could be expensive. Ultimately, if the threat of lien becomes serious, it would be wise to consult a local construction or real estate attorney - they'd be able to review the relevant documentation and communications, then advise on how best to proceed under your circumstances. Finally, here are a few resources that might be helpful: (1) I Just Received a Notice of Intent to Lien – What Should I Do Now?; (2) Information on Fraudulent Lien Filings; and (3) Texas Mechanics Lien Overview.
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