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What happens if a lien is not perfected?

North CarolinaMechanics Lien

We have a contractor threatening a lien on our property over a disputed invoice for which appears to be excessive and for which insufficient details have been provided. Further, we recently learned state law requires this person to have a GC license and he does not. If he proceeds with the lien filing, it is unlikely he will sue or even if he does that he will prevail. A lawsuit is required in our state to perfect a lien. What happens if the lien is not perfected?

1 reply

Aug 6, 2018
First, to clear up some vernacular - perfecting a mechanics lien typically merely requires a filing in the property records in the county where work is performed. Enforcing a mechanics lien requires an actual lawsuit. Anyway, mechanics liens may often be perfected regardless of the validity of the claim - county recorders offices typically have neither the bandwidth nor the authority to scrutinize each lien claim filed. However, because enforcing a mechanics lien requires legal action, an owner will have the opportunity to challenge a lien claim before it is simply enforced without further scrutiny. Regarding what happens to a filed mechanics lien if it is not enforced - mechanics liens expire after a certain amount of time if they aren't enforced. In North Carolina, a lien will expire if it is not enforced within In North Carolina, an action to enforce a mechanics lien against real property must be initiated within 180 days after the date of last furnishing labor or materials to the project. This means that, potentially, a lien claimant could only have 60 days from the filing of the lien until an action to enforce it must be initiated. Note, though, that this does not mean the lien just disappears. Rather, a lien claim will often just linger in the property records if left unattended. Of course, an owner can take legal action to have the lien removed, and the owner may also put pressure on the party who filed the lien to remove the now-invalid lien. More on that here: Does a Mechanics Lien Affect the Property Title Forever?
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