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Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>My husband and I have a security company. We need to file a lein on an apartment complex that owes us a great deal of money. We've never had to file a lein before. How do we began the process and what all do we need to do?

My husband and I have a security company. We need to file a lein on an apartment complex that owes us a great deal of money. We've never had to file a lein before. How do we began the process and what all do we need to do?

TennesseeMechanics LienRight to Lien

The apartment complex hasn't paid for service for a period on 6 months to one year and a half. So we've just been waiting on payment. They owe us close to 10,000 and haven't paid. We haven' t even included late fees and past due amounts. It would be over 10,000. They had to make budget cuts a few years back and of course security, maintenance, housekeeping etc. We're part of the cut backs and are owed money. We need this balance that they created paid. It's way overdue.

1 reply

May 13, 2019
I'm sorry to hear about your situation - no one should have to fight tooth and nail just to be paid what they've earned. There are a few things to consider here, namely (1) whether the work provided would give rise to a mechanics lien, (2) Tennessee's lien deadlines and requirements, and (3) recovery tools available. First, let's look at the availability of a mechanics lien. Generally, mechanics lien rights are available to those who have performed work to permanently improve real property. So, actions that improve the property - such as the installation of equipment substantially attached to the land and/or buildings would likely give rise to lien rights. However, recurring and regularly scheduled services may not be lienable. As for deadlines and requirements - before beginning work, parties hired directly by the property owner must send a Notice to Owner in order to preserve their right to later file a lien. Further, in Tennessee, parties who were hired by someone other than the property owner must file their mechanics lien within 90 days from their last furnishing of labor or materials. But, for parties hired by the property owner, this deadline does not apply - and there isn't actually a deadline for filing a lien. In fact, a lien filing might be technically unnecessary - but the claimant would still need to file suit to enforce their lien within 1 year of last furnishing labor and materials to the job. Though, it's still generally a good idea to file a lien anyway - even if the technical filing might be unnecessary. Finally, it's worth mentioning that regardless of whether lien rights do or do not exist, there are still options to recover payment. One option might be to still warn or threaten that a lien will be filed. By sending a document like a Notice of Intent to Lien, a claimant can let the property owner know that they're serious about recovering payment, and that they won't go unpaid without a fight. Because a mechanics lien is such a powerful and drastic remedy, property owners typically can't afford to take the threat of lien lightly, even when there might be doubt as to whether the lien would actually be appropriate. Further, just because lien rights might not be available doesn't mean that a debt isn't owed. There are always other options for recovery - such as a lawsuit or sending a debt to collections, among other options. For more about Tennessee's mechanics lien laws, these resources will be valuable: (1) Tennessee Lien & Notice Overview; and (2) How to File a Tennessee Mechanics Lien. For more information about options outside of mechanics lien filings, this resource should help: Other Options for Payment Recovery.
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