trying to determine if any lien rights

1 month ago

I believe a project is public but I am not sure.

Owner of a property is: Columbia County Housing & Redevelopment Authorities of Pennsylvania.

would i have lien rights? I would guess this is an agency of the County, but not sure. I am trying to get bonding info. GC thinks it is Bonded and I am hoping to get that. If it is not bonded I need to know for sure if I have no lien rights.

Senior Legal Associate Levelset

When project property is publicly owned, generally, mechanics lien rights will not be available in that property for anyone providing work to the project. Note, though, that a public entity being somewhat involved in a project doesn’t necessarily mean that the right to lien won’t be available. Generally, that will come down to whether the owner of the property, themselves, is a governmental entity or whether the owner is a private entity with some involvement from a public agency. So, really clarifying everyone’s role on the project property should help.

However, I’m not able to advise on whether this given project would be considered public or private, and I can’t provide you with legal advise as to whether lien rights are available for this particular project. Further, it was hard to track down any real information on the organization described above. It might be helpful to reach out to them directly for more clarity on whether the organization is publicly or privately owned, as well as whether they own the project property in question.

It’s worth noting, though, that the project’s prime contractor should know whether or not the given project is bonded. This is because the contractor, themselves, would have been the one responsible for securing a payment bond for the project. So, if the project’s prime contractor didn’t secure a bond, then there’s likely no bond on the project. Though, in some unfortunate situations, a contractor might not be willing to divulge whether they’ve secured a bond in an attempt to avoid a bond claim against their bond.

However, there is a way to efficiently determine whether a project has a payment bond present. Under § 196 of the Pennsylvania Little Miller Act, a project participant is entitled to a copy of the project’s payment bond, upon request to the public agency who contracted for the work. So, if a copy of the project’s bond is requested, as allowed by § 196, and if there’s a payment bond present on the project, then the public agency would be required to provide a copy of that bond.

Finally, note that there are some situations where neither mechanics lien rights nor bond claim rights are available on a project. That is, payment bonds are required for Pennsylvania public projects that exceed $10,000. So, if the overall project cost will be less than $10,000, a public project might not be bonded. And, in that situation, the only payment recovery tools available might be to make a legal claim.

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