In New Jersey, there is a blanket 90-day deadline for filing notices of construction liens. This means that you have 90 days from the last furnishing of materials, equipment or work to file your lien. However, this doesn’t mean it’s okay to wait until the last second. Oftentimes, county clerks’ offices experience major backups. Under such circumstances, it can take days, or even weeks, for your lien notice to be processed. It’s not unheard of for people to lose their lien rights due to these types of bureaucratic delays. Since the owner is permitted to disperse funds to general contractors and others who are waiting for payment until receiving notice of the filing of a construction lien, it’s in your best interests to file yours in a timely manner. An ideal time to do so is around 60 to 65 days after the final furnishing of services or materials. Please note, however, that the time you have will be shorter in the case of residential projects.
Commercial Construction Versus Residential Construction
Additional requirements must be fulfilled prior to filing construction liens for residential projects. First, please note that there is often confusion over what constitutes a commercial project as opposed to a residential one. Because the filing deadlines and other requirements differ, it is crucial to be clear about which type of project is involved. Generally speaking, if a construction project involves making improvements to a single-family or two-family house, or to a development of single- or two-family houses, it is considered to be a residential project. The same holds true for developments that include multiple housing units, including condos, townhouses and co-ops. If there is any doubt whatsoever about whether a given project is residential or commercial in nature, consult with an attorney. There is simply too much at stake to make assumptions. If you base your schedule on the wrong type of project, you could inadvertently forfeit your lien rights.
Filing Liens for Residential Projects
After confirming that you are, indeed, dealing with a residential construction project, you will have 120 days after the final furnishing of contract work and materials to file your construction lien. You must, however, be authorized by an arbitration award to do so. There’s more to it than that. Within 60 days of the last furnishing, you must file a notice of unpaid balance, or NUB. A demand for NUB arbitration must also be filed within that period of time. As long as the arbitration award is in your favor, a construction lien may be filed. Please note that all of the above steps must be accomplished within 120 days of last furnishing. If you fail to do so, you will lose your lien rights. Arbitrators for most NUB arbitrations are appointed by the American Arbitration Association, or AAA. However, an alternative arbitrator may be selected, but both parties must agree to the appointment. Following arbitration, the arbitrator has 30 days to make their decision. Also, several days are usually lost while selecting an arbitrator and while the AAA or another agency forwards the award. With all of this in mind, potential lien claimants should act within 45 to 60 days of last furnishing to ensure all deadlines are met. This affords plenty of extra time to account for potential delays and the like, and it minimizes the risk of forfeiting your lien rights due to such delays.
Retain a Construction Liens Attorney Today
Ensure that your lien filing goes off without a hitch by procuring legal representation. Call the construction liens lawyers at Snellings Law LLC at (973) 265-6100 now.