A New Jersey construction lien attorney at Snellings Law LLC understands that disputes sometimes arise between homeowners and contractors who have completed work on the home. If the homeowner refuses or fails to pay, the contractors and subcontractors who completed the work have a right to seek a construction lien against the property. If you are owed money for work you have completed or if you are a homeowner whose home has had a construction lien filed against it, the following is what a New Jersey construction lien attorney believes you should know about the process.
Importance of Following the Statutory Guidelines
While it is legal for contractors, subcontractors and suppliers to file construction liens against property for work they have performed or for materials they have supplied but for which they have not received payment, the law outlines rigid guidelines that must be followed. If the lien is filed improperly, it will not be successful even if the property owner truly owes the money. Some contractors or suppliers attempt to file these liens without help and do so incorrectly, rendering them useless.
When a Lien Has to Be Filed
There is a strict statute of limitations during which a lien process must be completed. It cannot be filed any more than 90 days after the materials were supplied or the work was performed. If the contractor or supplier waits until after that deadline while attempting to collect, they lose the right to file the lien.
The Construction Lien Process
The first step in the process is filing a “notice of unpaid balance and right to file lien claim” motion. This serves to provide notice to the homeowner that a balance is owed and what the amount claimed is. This form has to be filed no more than 60 days after the date of last work or the provision of supplies. After that form is filed with the county clerk’s office, the contractor or supplier must then request arbitration with the American Arbitration Association. If the filing party does not demand arbitration, the lien will be discharged. At arbitration, the homeowner has the right to dispute the lien and the money owed. The arbitrator will determine whether or not a balance is owed and what the amount is that can be listed on any resulting lien. If the filing party exaggerates the amount willfully, the lien can be discharged. The arbitration must occur prior to the expiration of the 90-day time period, after which the contractor or supplier may then file their construction lien. The construction lien itself must be filed no later than 10 days after receiving the arbitrator’s decision.
What Happens If a Construction Lien Is Improper?
Some unscrupulous contractors, subcontractors or suppliers will threaten property owners with a construction lien for amounts that were never owed, simply to try to pressure them into paying additional money. In other cases, if a filed lien does not follow the statutory guidelines, the law provides that the filing party can be held responsible for payment of the property owner’s attorney fees.
Contact a New Jersey Construction Lien Attorney
If you are a homeowner that has been threatened with a construction lien, it is very important that you seek legal help immediately. If a lien is successful, you run the risk of potentially losing your home or property. If you are a supplier, contractor or subcontractor who is owed money, you will also likely need to get the help of an attorney in order to make sure all of the legal and procedural guidelines are followed. This can help prevent your lien from being discharged, which would close off an otherwise strong avenue for you to collect what you are owed. It is important that you act quickly. To contact a New Jersey construction lien attorney at Snellings Law LLC, call (973) 265-6100.