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Recourse for non-licensed contractor placing (most likely) illegal lien on our residential property?

North Carolina

The situation is this... The contractor my wife and I hired, from November, 2017 to June, 2018, for our extensive home remodel is taking steps to place a lien on our residential property (using the zlien service) for non-payment on three invoices (totaling over $10k) we received after he walked off the job. Much of the work described in said invoices appear to either 1.) have been billed in previous fully-paid invoices, 2.) work that wasn't completed, and 3.) have listed 59 labor-hrs without explanation or association to work performed. Our inquiries to the contractor to settle the open balances have gone unanswered, yet he's going through the process in an attempt to place a lien on our house. Additionally, we found out today that this contractor has no valid General Contractor license in our state, North Carolina. My wife and I were always under the impression he was a licensed GC because the amount of work we needed him to do far exceeded the $30K threshold that requires a GC license in North Carolina. Thus far, we've paid this contractor over $30K and he says we owe him another $10K. As homeowners, how should we handle this situation in order to protect ourselves? Thank you in advance for your help on this. - Peter La Fond

2 replies

Aug 3, 2018
I'm sorry to hear about your troubles. First, it's worth noting that the North Carolina mechanics lien statute does not specifically prohibit unlicensed contractors from filing a mechanics lien. Of course, the lien statute isn't the end-all, be-all. In fact, based on § 87-13 of the North Carolina General Statutes, holding oneself out as a licensed contractor, or contracting for an improvement requiring licensure (without actually obtaining that licensure) could actually result in a misdemeanor. Further, it appears that under North Carolina law, an unlicensed contractor's attempts to legally enforce payment claims (where licensure was required) will not be enforced by the courts. Thus, if a contractor attempts recovery via a breach of contract claim or some other legal process (like, say, enforcing a filed mechanics lien), that action will very likely fail due to a lack of licensure. Note, of course, that a mechanics lien is not a legal action in court, but rather a filed document claiming an interest in property. Thus, as mentioned above, a mechanics lien filing might actually occur, but the actual enforcement of that claim - or some other legal recovery - would quite likely fail, if attempted. To have the lien removed, many owners first demand that a filed lien be removed by sending a letter to the contractor - doing so and including specific legal threats, and potentially sending via an attorney, will often expedite the removal of a filed lien. Further, asserting that a lien is fraudulent or improper under the North Carolina lien statute could also provide extra firepower. Finally, attempting to discharge the lien as set out by § 44-A16 could be effective as well. Ultimately, if a mechanics lien has been filed on your property and you believe the claim to be invalid, consulting with a local construction or real estate attorney will help to illuminate potential paths toward resolving the issue, and they'll be able to give advice on how to properly move forward. Plus, if legal action does become necessary, there's a chance that attorney fees would be awarded in the event of an improper lien claim. Here are some resources that may be helpful: How Do You Remove A Frivolous Mechanics Lien? and Improper Lien Filed on Your Property? Here’s What to Do
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Nov 1, 2020
OMG was your “unlicensed” General Contractor Brad Mondie? Your story sounds exactly like mine. We were referred to Mondie through our Realtor, who was excellent. We had a major renovation and I begged him to pull permits and have the county perform an inspection to make sure everything is up to code. Wouldn’t or really couldn’t do it because he’s not licensed! I now have spent thousands and thousands of dollars fixing all of the shorty work he did. I reported Brad Mondie to the Beaufort County Building Inspectors Department. I provided them with a detailed account of everything that happened. A complaint has been filed and Mondie is scheduled to go to the Superior NC Court soon. Please, please follow through with a complaint to the NC Contractor Licensing Board! We need to get these crooks off of the streets.
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