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Lien is filed for charges not owed

MinnesotaLien Releases

We have been given notice of a lien against a property that we own. The notice was sent by email only. no certified notice was received. The contractor has been paid in full for all work preformed. After he received full payment on the contracted amount, he wanted more money ($900) to pay him for the work he would not perform in the spring. If we did not pay that amount, he would file a lien against us for over $4500, which he has now done. He is not licensed in Minnesota were the work was performed. What are our options?....

1 reply

Apr 26, 2019
Sorry to hear about your situation. Although mechanics liens are meant to level the playing field in the construction industry, many times they can be abused. First, regarding the notice of lien claim, Minnesota Lien laws have strict requirements when it comes to notices. In particular, §514.08 requires that when a statement of a claim is filed for record with the county recorder, a copy of the statement should be served personally or by certified mail on the owner. Emails typically do not constitute proper notice. If there is a reason to believe that the lien claim is false or invalid there are a few options. One way to try and resolve this issue is to send a demand letter to the contractor to remove the claim, citing that legal action will be taken if the lien is not removed. This can be particularly effective if sent by an attorney. Another option is to wait it out. If the lien claimant doesn’t file a lawsuit to enforce the claim or Notice of Lis Pendens within the one-year timeframe, the lien will expire. If the claimant does ultimately file a lawsuit, then you can raise any defenses to the lien in your answer. Plus, the prevailing party in a foreclosure action will be awarded attorney’s fees. Lastly, there is always the option to bring an action in court to have the lien removed from the title. In Minnesota, this is known as an “adverse claims” action, which will determine the validity of the lien before the one year period expires. We suggest that you contact a local construction attorney to discuss this and other options. Some additional resources you may find helpful, (1) Improper Lien Filed on Your Property? Here's What to Do, & (2) Minnesota Mechanics Lien & Notice Overview.
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