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What are the Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Filing Mechanic’s Liens in Philadelphia?

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Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Filing Mechanic's Liens in Philadelphia

Filing a mechanic's lien can be a complicated process, especially for construction contractors and subcontractors working on projects in Philadelphia. A mechanic's lien allows contractors, subcontractors, materials suppliers and design professionals to place a lien on the property to secure payment for work or materials provided for a construction project.

However, there are some common mistakes that can lead to a mechanic's lien being rejected or invalidated in Philadelphia. Avoiding these top 5 mistakes when filing a mechanic's lien is crucial to make sure you get paid for the work you completed.

Our team of construction attorneys has 35+ years of experience in corporate and business law. Call Davis Bucco & Makara today at 610-238-0880 for more information. 

1. Failing to Send Preliminary Notice Within the Deadline

One of the most common mistakes is failing to send the required preliminary notice to the property owner within the deadline. In Philadelphia, the preliminary notice must be sent to the owner within 45 days of first starting work on the project. 

This notice informs the owner that you are providing services or materials, and that you have the right to file a mechanic's lien if you are not paid. If you miss this crucial 45-day deadline, you lose the right to file a lien. Tracking project start dates and sending the notice on time is essential.

2. Providing Insufficient Detail in the Lien Claim

The lien claim that is filed with the Philadelphia Prothonotary's office must contain very specific details, and errors or omissions can invalidate the lien. The claim must identify the contractor or owner accurately, provide the exact address and description of the property, and include specifics about the labor, services or materials provided.

Providing estimated dates or incomplete addresses is a common mistake that should be avoided. Having all the detailed documentation ready before filing the claim is key.

3. Failing to Name All Parties Involved

It is essential that a mechanic's lien names all relevant parties involved in the project. At minimum, this includes the property owner, the general contractor, and any construction lenders. 

If other subcontractors are involved, they should also be named in the lien claim.

Failing to include any party with an interest in the property can delay enforcement of the lien. Researching and identifying every company and lender tied to the project helps avoid this mistake.

4. Not Following Serving Requirements

After filing the lien with the Prothonotary, service of the claim on relevant parties is required within 30 days. This usually involves sending the claim via certified mail and registered mail. Failing to obtain the mailing receipts or not serving parties properly can invalidate the lien.

Closely following the mechanic's lien statute's serving instructions, and obtaining mailing receipts, is key to meet these requirements. Proper service proves the parties were notified of the lien claim.

5. Making Errors in Deadlines or Expiration Dates

Meeting the deadlines and expiration dates in the Pennsylvania mechanic's lien statute is crucial. Common errors include setting expiration dates incorrectly on claims, or failing to file suit to enforce the lien in time.

Liens usually expire 6 months after filing if no lawsuit is filed. Missing this deadline for filing suit makes the lien void. Carefully calendaring all mechanic's lien deadlines helps avoid mistakes.

Leveraging a Construction Law Attorney

Filing a valid mechanic's lien in Philadelphia involves meeting rigid deadlines, filing proper documentation, naming all parties, and following serving rules. To avoid these top 5 mistakes, leveraging an experienced construction lawyer in Philadelphia is key.

They can walk through the process, help compile lien details, and review the claim before submission. This helps optimize the lien and avoid any procedural errors. They can also represent contractors in any lien enforcement lawsuits in Philadelphia courts. Protect your payment rights by contacting a construction law attorney today if issues arise on a project.

Key Steps in the Mechanic's Lien Process

Filing a mechanic's lien in Philadelphia involves the following key steps:

  • Send preliminary notice to property owner within 45 days of starting work

  • File lien claim with Prothonotary office within 6 months of last work

  • Include complete property address, owner name, detailed labor/materials provided

  • Name all parties - owner, contractor, lenders, other subcontractors

  • Serve notice of claim via certified and registered mail within 30 days

  • File suit to enforce lien within 6 months if payment still not received

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a mechanic's lien?

A mechanic's lien is a legal claim filed by contractors, subcontractors, and materials suppliers to place a lien on a property to secure payment for unpaid services or materials on a construction project.

2. When should I file a mechanic's lien in Philadelphia?

You must file the lien claim with the Philadelphia Prothonotary within 6 months of your last day providing labor or materials on the project. Send a preliminary notice within 45 days of starting work.

3. Who should be named in a Philadelphia mechanic's lien?

At minimum, name the property owner, general contractor, construction lenders, and any other subcontractors involved in the project on the lien claim.

4. What are the service requirements for mechanic's lien in Philadelphia?

You must serve the mechanic's lien claim via certified mail and registered mail to relevant parties within 30 days of filing the lien. Obtain and maintain the mailing receipts.

5. What happens if I don't enforce a mechanic's lien in time?

The lien claim will expire and become invalid if you do not file a lawsuit to enforce it within 6 months of filing the initial lien claim. Calendar this deadline carefully.

Choosing a Construction Lawyer to Help You 

Consider having a Philadelphia construction lawyer review the lien filing to optimize accuracy and validity. Don't let a technical error derail your lien - leverage legal guidance to enforce your right to payment for work completed.

Leverage the knowledge and skills of the lawyers at  Davis Bucco & Makara  to ensure you have legal support. Contact our office today at today at 610-238-0880 to schedule a consultation and get the advice you need from a trusted legal advisor.