I have completed a small job for a customer. I received a 1500.00 check for a deposit.At the end of the job there was a 3,700.00 amount owed.The customer canceled the check.I have tried numerous times to work with the customer and there has been know outcomes.I even told them that I would put a lien against there house.There was not a contract.But there where multiple text messages where the customer agreed on a set price.I have every text message between us saved.Can I move foward and put a mechanics lien against the customers house. This customer must sell this house that they are living in right now.They already have accepted a offer on the house that I worked on.. What are my rights?August 25 was the last day I was there.Please call me.Leave a message if I do not answer.I WILL CALL BACK. Please leave your name and whatever emperor mation I need to get back in touch with you. Thanks Brian WILLIS

Senior Legal Associate Levelset

Virginia is not a state that explicitly requires a written contract in order to file a mechanics lien. While some contract must generally be in place – that contract can generally be verbal or implied and still potentially give rise to mechanics lien rights. And, under the right circumstances, text messages back and forth can establish a contract.

Specifically, when there’s been a clear offer, acceptance of the offer, and some consideration (value) has been given, a contract will generally form. Plus, parties can also indicate a contract is in place through their actions in some cases.

Ultimately, this is all to say that Virginia lien rights generally aren’t lost simply because there’s not a physical, signed contract in place. So, a mechanics lien may well be available here. However, to determine whether the specific texts, verbal assurances, and/or actions formed a contract in your case, a local construction attorney might be helpful here. They’d be able to review all texts and communications to help determine how you can proceed.

It’s also worth noting, though, that even in a situation where you’re unsure of whether you can file a lien, sending a document like a Notice of Intent to Lien might be useful. It acts like a warning shot, explaining that if payment isn’t made soon, then a mechanics lien will be filed. As you can imagine, property owners don’t like having their property liened – particularly in the face of a sale or when they’re looking to finance their property. So they may be more willing to talk deal once they’re aware that a mechanics lien is a very real possibility. While verbal threats may work, like the one you described above, a written warning tends to carry a little more weight. More on that here: What is a Notice of Intent to Lien and Should You Send One?

For more information on Virginia’s mechanics lien rights and how to make a claim:
(1) Virginia Mechanics Lien Guide and FAQs
(2) How to File a Virginia Mechanics Lien – Step by Step Guide

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