When should be my last furnishing date on a commercial project that has an ongoing contract?

6 months ago

I provide cleaning services and occasional handyman services for a commercial building in New Jersey. The building is going through management changes and I haven’t been paid for a period of time on a 4-month-old invoice.

What date would be considered the last date of furnishing and do I still have lien rights on this job?

Senior Legal Associate Levelset
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The deadline to file a New Jersey mechanics lien on commercial property will be 90 days after the last furnishing date on the job. Now, when work is continuous, it can be hard to pinpoint a last furnishing date. But, that should typically be the last date when lienable services were provided. And, minor work like punch list work or change orders, etc. won’t extend the timeframe for filing a lien. Further discussion on last furnishing dates here: What’s the ‘Date Labor or Materials Last Delivered’ and How Can I Prove It?

Importantly, though – note that cleaning or maintenance services generally won’t give rise to lien rights. Though, repair work may give rise to lien rights if the repair provided a lasting improvement to the underlying property. Typically, that means the repair will be more or less “permanent” and that it’s attached to the property to a serious degree.

I hope this was helpful. For additional resources on New Jersey mechanics lien rights, this page should be valuable: New Jersey Mechanics Lien Guide and FAQs.

Recovering payment without having to file a mechanics lien

Keep in mind that mechanics liens are generally considered the nuclear option. And, if recovery can be made without having to file a lien claim, that’s usually preferable.

On that front, something as simple as an invoice reminder could lead to payment. An invoice reminder is just like it sounds – it lets recipients know that payment is due and owing, and that the invoice should be squared away. Taking things a step further with a payment demand letter can do the trick, too. When sending a demand letter, it’s helpful to set a deadline for making payment, and threatening potential legal action will reinforce the claim for payment.

Finally, because mechanics liens are so powerful in forcing payment, remember that the mere threat of a mechanics lien claim will be powerful, too. Sending a document like a Notice of Intent to Lien will let recipients know you’re serious about getting paid and willing to take them to task to make sure payment is made.

With all of the above in mind, recall that legal options may be on the table too. And, for claims under $3,000, small claims court might be an option for streamlining the recovery process. If you want to explore those options, it’d be wise to consult a local New Jersey attorney – they’d be able to review your circumstances and advise on how to move forward and get paid.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is not legal advice and should not be construed as such. Rather, this content is provided for informational purposes. Do not act on this information as if it is advice. Further, this post does not create any attorney-client relationship. If you do need legal advice, seek the help of a local attorney.
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