More Columbus residents are building a residence or commercial property rather than buying existing structures, and we are seeing an increasing number of legal problems arising during the construction process. The buyers sometimes are not satisfied with the quality of the contractor’s work, the contractor may leave a task unfinished, and so on.
These disputes often result in a mechanic’s lien, which is a security interest that a contractor can put on your property in their attempt to ensure that they get the money they feel they’re entitled to.
It is unfortunate to have problems with contractors and subcontractors during the construction phase because there are safeguards available to protect you from most of them. If you hire an experienced Ohio real estate lawyer, in advance of the real estate construction, to negotiate and draft the terms of the contract, with safeguards relating to the procedures that the contractors have to follow, it can prevent these issues from happening.
Filing a mechanic’s lien is a very technical process and many times the contractor who files the lien doesn’t do it correctly. If they don’t follow the mechanic’s lien process exactly, it is not effective and we can get the lien removed or invalidated.
Q: Do you represent contractors in mechanic’s lien issues?
Yes. In Ohio construction disputes, we represent contractors and subcontractors, as well as buyers and developers. There are many legitimate situations where contractors should have been paid for work performed, and there is a protection for them that we are there to enforce when called upon to do so.
These laws were instituted to protect contractors, subcontractors and laborers in situations where they are spending their money, energy and time. It gives them security for the work they are doing on the property.
As an example of what we may do if the owners are not paying our client for whatever reason, we go through the technical legal process of filing the mechanic’s lien, in which there are certain things that we demand from the property owner. Once the lien is actually filed, that lien is on that property.
If it’s a commercial real estate development in progress and they have a lien, that becomes a big problem for the property owner because they won’t be able to get any more funds from the bank until they have taken care of the lien. It puts the owner in a position where they have a lien on their property, and they need to do something with it otherwise they won’t be able to finish the construction project.
In the case of a residential property, if there is a lien, the owner is not going to be able to refinance or sell the property until the lien is removed. In the end, the property owner may have no choice but to come to the table and pay our client to remove that lien.
There have been situations where a lien can last many years. There have been times when a homeowner chooses to just leave the lien on the title of the property. Sooner or later, they find that they can’t sell or refinance their home, so they come to us or we suddenly get a check from the title company to release the lien.