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Is a NOL actually a lien?

TennesseeLien ForeclosureMechanics Lien

Attorney filed a NOL in our Tenn. courthouse, property owner received certified letter saying that they owed us money but he hasn't responded. Just because the letter was submitted and received is here actually a lien on it now, or was that an intent to file a lien? I asked the attorney to send a copy to the mortgage company which they are doing now. Property owner does not live in the same state, however told a detective that we did not do the work, he paid another contractor to do it which is not true. He knows we did the work, he saw us doing the work. Should I email or mail him the 2,000 photos I have of us doing the work, which is time stamped? Can we go to civil court, it's over $50,000.00? Should we give him the chance to back out of his lies?

1 reply

Mar 21, 2019
Good question! It's common for vernacular to cause some confusion when it comes to mechanics liens - they often go by different names in different states. In Tennessee, a mechanics lien is referred to as a "Notice of Lien" (which I assume NOL stands for). Further, Tennessee requires that once a lien is filed, notice of the lien filing must be made via registered or certified mail, return receipt requested. But, to be positive, it might be worth asking your attorney whether they have executed a mechanics lien filing - they'll be able to provide the most clarity on that front. Before going further - I should note that I'm unable to provide advice on how to proceed. However, I am able to provide you some information that should be relevant and helpful for coming to your own determinations. When a mechanics lien has been filed for work performed, but an owner is disputing that fact, presenting the owner with proof that the work was performed and showing that there's plenty of documentation to back up the work done could help to convince an owner that making payment for what's due is a better alternative than trying to avoid payment through a legal battle. When a claimant can show that they won't back down and has extensive documentation supporting their claim, many claimants find that the owner will be less willing to combat them on payment. As for the amount at hand - small claims court actions Tennessee appear to be capped at $25,000, but for the purposes of enforcing a filed lien claim, that's largely irrelevant. Tennessee mechanics lien claims must be enforced via action in a general sessions court. Prior to a lien enforcement action, though, it's generally a good idea to try and obtain payment without the need for filing the enforcement suit. In fact, the deadline to file suit to enforce a Tennessee lien is a pretty long one - Tennessee lien claimants who were hired directly by the owner must initiate suit to enforce their lien 1 year from the completion of the project. For claimants hired by someone other than the property owner, the deadline to enforce a lien is shortened to 90 days after the filing of a lien. Finally, in either case, if the property owner serves the lien claimant with a written demand for enforcement of the lien, the deadline is shortened to 60 days after the demand is served. All of this is to say that, once a mechanics lien is filed, a claimant will typically have some time available to talk payment with the owner and to try and resolve the payment dispute. When it doesn't look like payment is forthcoming, many claimants find that adding an additional step prior to enforcing their lien can help with recovery - a warning or threat that the lien will be enforced. By sending such a threat, via a document like a Notice of Intent to Foreclose, a claimant can show the owner they're serious about the lien claim and that nonpayment won't be tolerated. Conidering the drastic implications of a lien enforcement suit, many owners will be wary of calling the claimant's bluff, which can help the fight for payment. But ultimately, the lien deadlines will still apply, so if negotiation or threats aren't able to get the job done, filing a lawsuit to enforce the filed lien could become necessary. For more information on Tennessee mechanics lien claims (including deadlines), this resource should be valuable: Tennessee Lien & Notice FAQs.
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