In 2011, the New Jersey legislature made changes in construction lien law that affected private and commercial projects, but not government projects.
The Construction Lien Law revised the lien-filing process for suppliers, subcontractors and private contractors. Changes to the law include:
Clarification of construction industry terms
More precise provisions for discharging a satisfied lien claim
More comprehensive definition of the arbitrator’s role
Modified time limits for filing and perfecting residential construction contract lien claims
Specifications for applying lien claims to community association property (condominium, homeowners and cooperative associations, etc.)
While there is considerable litigation regarding construction liens, one case stands out in particular for setting a precedent for contractors. A New Jersey Supreme Court ruling in Thomas Group Inc. v. Wharton Senior Citizen Housing Inc. favored contractors who filed construction liens. A pivotal issue in the case was whether a contractor could file a construction lien prior to completing the work. The Supreme Court ruled that contractors had the right to file a lien to be paid for the work done even when they had not fully completed the contract. In this particular case, the contractor, Thomas Group, had finished most of the work outlined in the contract. The senior citizen housing association filed to dismiss the claim based on the argument that it had been prematurely filed. The court saw no reason to completely dismiss a claim on this basis.
Construction liens are a complicated area of law. When disputes arise, law firms have knowledge of how statutes and case laws apply and lawyers who can protect your rights. It is wise to put a New Jersey construction lien lawyer on your side who knows construction lien law and has considerable litigation experience.