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Submitting a lien

MissouriLawsuitMechanics LienPayment DisputesRecovery Options

I have a client that I have provided a home plan for. Have a contract and finished the job, in which he paid my retainer and that is all. I have an outstanding invoice which he has fail to pay. I have made numerous calls and emails with no success. He was going to purchase some acreage to put his new house on, which he has not done. I have his current address which he currently resides. My question is, can I put a lien on his current residence?

1 reply

Sep 19, 2017
Mechanics liens are very powerful, but limited in scope and applicability. Since mechanics liens encumber the improved property itself (which can be foreclosed upon and sold to satisfy the debt), the lien is limited to the property improved. While this can cause issues for design professionals such as architects, engineers, surveyors, and the like, that is an offshoot of the lien law.

In Missouri, the liens of parties who provided "landscape architectural, architectural, engineering or land surveying work" only arise when such work is "directly connected with the erection or repair of any building or other improvement upon land." To the extent that the work was not performed directly in connection with an actual construction project, a mechanics lien is likely not the appropriate remedy.

This is not to say that you are without recourse, however. It appears that you would have a claim against your client for breach of contract, among other potential causes of action. Filing a lawsuit can be an expensive and lengthy road to recovery, but it doesn't necessarily need to be - if your contract provides for attorneys' fees you may be able to recover them in a suit, and if the amount due fits the requirements you may be able to pursue the claim in small claims court. And, to come around full circle, if you obtain a judgment agains the client and he doesn't pay, you can obtain a judgment lien against his assets in order to get paid.
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