Lien transfer

New YorkLien PriorityMechanics Lien

I did work on this project and me and few people who worked there didn’t get paid. We found out that the owner is losing to the property to taxes in two weeks and I was wondering how I would get paid. Does the town who will own the property in two weeks pay me when the sell it or does the lien just transfer it the new owner who would buy the property from the town.

1 reply

Jul 29, 2019
That's a good question, and I'm sorry to hear about that - no one should have to scramble just to be paid what they've earned. First, it's worth noting that if an owner may lose the title to the property where work was performed, it's generally a good idea to secure a mechanics lien before the property actually changes hands. While lien rights may persist even with a transfer, it will only create more headaches and issues. So, if a lien has not been filed on a property, and if that property will soon change hands, filing the lien sooner than later is generally a good idea, if it's come to that. Generally, a lien will carry over to the new owner if it remains unpaid - but in a tax foreclosure situation, things change a little.

When mechanics liens are filed on a property which is about to be foreclosed for unpaid taxes, there are some interesting things to consider. But, ultimately, having a mechanics lien in place will be valuable if the property is foreclosed - even if that foreclosure is actually for tax purposes rather than the foreclosure of the mechanics liens, themselves. Generally, when a property is foreclosed, all liens against that property are cleared from the title. In exchange, the funds that are paid for the property (via the foreclosure sale) are split amongst the lien claimants. In order to make sure you're paid, if a lien is filed, it'd also a good idea to make sure the town is well aware of any mechanics liens filed against the property. Unfortunately for mechanics lien claimants, tax liens will generally have priority over mechanics liens. That means if the property is foreclosed, the tax liens would be paid before the mechanics liens would. Further, if the property is mortgaged, the mortgage would likely be paid before any payment would be made on the mechanics liens, too. But, in many situations, the mechanics lien claimant will be next in line to get paid.

Considering the complexity of situations where multiple liens are filed and how mechanics liens interact with tax liens and foreclosures, it would be wise to consult a local attorney familiar with real estate foreclosures and lien priority. They'll be able to look at the specifics of your situation and advise how best to proceed in your particular situation. This is especially true when there's a tight timeframe before a tax foreclosure takes place.

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