A contractor sent me a letter on intent to place a lien on my property however he signed an unconditional lien waiver form. Who do I show the form to and stop the lien from being placed?
Aug 29, 2019
Generally, the best way to avoid liens is through communication with the party intending to file the lien. If the party has been paid for the work that they provided, opening a line of communication and stating your position is a good first step. Additionally, sending a letter outlining the fact that: 1) the party has been paid and/or that an unconditional lien waiver was signed and provided; and 2) that if an improper lien is filed it may give rise to liability for slander of title or pursuant to other causes of action, may be sufficient to avoid the lien being filed.
Providing the lien waiver to the any other party, like the prothonotary, will not likely result in a prohibition against the lien being filed. Recorders do not generally work as gatekeepers to disallow the filing of mechanics liens, whether or not the lien may ultimately be invalid. If an improper lien is filed, an action can be initiated to have it removed, and to the extent that the property owner incurs damages, they may be recovered through an action against the improper claimant.
Note, however, that Pennsylvania law states that: "A release signed by the claimant shall not operate as a waiver of the right to file a claim for labor or materials subsequently furnished, unless it shall appear thereby that such was the express intent of the party signing the same."
So, even an unconditional waiver may not actually prohibit a potential lien claimant from claiming a lien for labor or materials furnished after the lien waiver was provided. This is obviously especially true if the unconditional waiver was a "progress" or "partial" waiver rather than a final waiver.