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My husband and I started a small construction business renovating houses

OhioMechanics LienPayment DisputesRecovery Options

We did a small turn and was supposed to be paid 1000 that Friday for our work. My husband and I worked under mark, he worked directly for a company named Conrax. Mark is just a gc as well, so I guess we were sort of his crew, but we had separate houses we were working on. Anyways mark didn’t pay that Friday said computers went down at the office. This was two weeks before Christmas. The week before Christmas we put a bid in on a house for 1340 or so, I have exact numbers. And we were to be paid the Friday before Christmas. We met his wife, she handed us a envelope with four hundred dollars in it and drove away. We usually get a check from them. The amount we were to be paid was the two weeks worth of work. We asked him had he made a mistake, he got mad and “fired” us. I have many texts and messages discussing prior to that, what was to be paid, what was owed and so on. My proof is what I call it? I got ahold of conrax told them I was filing a lien explained the situation. This was right after Xmas I talked to them, they said they’d contact mark and the higher up and get back to me. That very night, mark calls cussing yelling and screaming. His wife messages me asking what we’re owed, saying marks job is at stake how can she fix this and make it all go away. We also received threatening messages from on of marks actyal crew members. Today I finally herd back from conrex, they said since he had been paid out for the houses they can’t do anything bc mark claimed we had been paid everything we’re owed. They wouldn’t even look at my proof, and he still has his job? They pretty much said all I can do is sue mark. Even so, he won’t pay what we’re owed. Because he has done this, we’ve lost a lot. We have three children and bills just as everyone else, as I said we have a LIST of what we lost it wasn’t just the money and our main source of income. I need to know my next step. At this point hiring a lawyer isn’t a option due to not having money, even so, we wouldn’t get our money plus lawyer fees and court costs. And even so at that point if all worked in our favor, mark would never pay. I am not sure what my options now, I have someone I know who’s been in this business for 40 years and says to file a lien reguardless. Any information you could give would be very great. We are young and yes we’ve been renoavting houses on a smaller scale for a while now. But just within the past year we scaled out and started a company.

1 reply

Jan 4, 2019
I'm sorry to hear that - it all sounds very frustrating. Everyone is entitled to be paid what they've earned, and getting paid for your work shouldn't have to turn into a contentious battle. Let's talk about a few potential options for recovery. First, as mentioned by your industry contact, filing a mechanics lien can be an incredibly powerful tool for payment (you can learn about why that is, here: How Do Mechanics Liens Work? 17 Ways a Lien Gets You Paid). Typically, a lien filing will be the nuclear option - meaning, for most claimants, mechanics liens aren't used until all other options have been exhausted. Because mechanics liens are such a powerful tool, there are strict notice and deadline requirements that come into play. In order to file a valid and enforceable mechanics lien, parties who were hired by someone other than the property owner must typically send a Notice of Furnishing. If the notice is required, but not sent, the right to file a valid lien will be lost. Note, though, that if a Notice of Commencement was not filed on the project, Notice of Furnishing will not be necessary in order to preserve the right to file a lien. But, if a Notice of Commencement was filed, and a Notice of Furnishing was not sent, a later filed mechanics lien will be invalid and unenforceable. Of course, getting the lien filed might still be technically possible (that is , a lien could be recorded - county recorders offices have neither the bandwidth nor the authority to investigate each claim made). But merely getting a lien recorded doesn't mean that the lien is valid and enforceable. When it comes down to it, such a lien filing might still result in payment - but it could also lead to an invalid and unenforceable lien (or even a claim of a fraudulent lien, potentially). For more on how to file an Ohio lien, this resource should help: How to File an Ohio Mechanics Lien. While a mechanics lien may or may not be an option, it's worth noting that the mere threat of lien can help payment talks - just as you learned on the phone call described above. Sending a Notice of Intent to Lien is often enough to get the payment talks going - and when a lien claim is on the horizon, the situation will demand the attention of the property owner as well as any other party with a stake in the project (not just the person who failed to pay). We discuss that option in-depth here: What Is a Notice of Intent to Lien and Should You Send One? Finally, you'd mentioned that hiring a lawyer and taking the issue to court might be too expensive of an option. Note that making a claim in Ohio Small Claims Court for the debt owed could be an option. Small claims court is much cheaper and more efficient than traditional court proceedings, and taking an issue to small claims court will typically not require an attorney. Of course, claims are limited to $3,000 or less. Finally, while this may not be helpful for the current situation, note that sending preliminary notice (regardless of whether it's required) can be helpful to start the job on the right foot and can lead to improved payment processes. zlien discusses that idea in this article: Why It’s a Bad Idea to Send Preliminary Notices on “Problem Jobs” Only Finally, this resource should be helpful regarding Ohio's lien and notice rules: Ohio Lien & Notice FAQs.
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