In Connecticut, a mechanic's lien may be filed by any person who has a claim for more than ten dollars for materials furnished or services rendered in the construction, raising, removal or repairs of any building or in the improvement of any lot or in the site development or subdivision of any plot of land. The claim must be by virtue of a contract with the owner of the building or land at issue. If the contract is with a tenant rather than the owner, then a lien can only be filed if the contract was made with the consent of the owner.
A mechanic's lien must be filed on the land records of the town where the property is located. This filing must take place within 90 days from when the goods or services were last provided. If the contractor waits more than 90 days, he or she can still sue the property owner for the amounts due, but will lose the benefit of the mechanic's lien.
Similar to a mortgage or judgment lien, a properly filed mechanic's lien generally prevents an owner from selling his property without satisfying the underlying debt, i.e., paying for the goods and services provided. This is because a buyer is unlikely to close on the purchase without first confirming that no liens will remain on the property.
A mechanic's lien only lasts for one year. During that year, the contractor must either secure payment or commence a mechanic's lien foreclosure. A mechanic's lien can be foreclosed in the same way that a mortgage can be foreclosed. Usually, a home owner will pay the contractor's debt before allowing his property to be lost in foreclosure. If the homeowner refuses to pay the contractor and actually allows the contractor to complete the foreclosure and take title to the property, the contractor will be taking title subject to all superior mortgages and liens affecting the property. This means that even if the contractor succeeds in foreclosing the lien, he or she will take title to the property subject to the owner's mortgage and any other superior liens on the property. As a result, it is important to find out as much as possible about all mortgages and other liens affecting the property before commencing the foreclosure.
In any specific case, there are usually other variables which may ultimately effect whether a contractor is entitled to file a mechanic's lien. If you believe you have a reason to file a mechanic's lien, discussing your situation with a competent attorney is a critical first step. Even the smallest error in preparing a mechanic's lien can result in the lien having no legal effect. If I can be of assistance in analyzing your situation, or if you have questions relating to mechanic's liens or other areas of business law, please feel free to call or email me.