A business man files for a mechanics lien in New York.

If you’re an unpaid trades worker, contractor, or subcontractor, you may have heard about mechanics’ liens as a way to be sure that the property owner pays for your labor. You may wonder how to file a mechanic’s lien in NY. The requirements for how to put a lien on a property in NY for unpaid wages or an unpaid contract can be relatively complicated. Below, TonaLaw describes how to file a mechanic’s lien in NY. Contact our office today if you need help preparing or filing a mechanic’s lien in Suffolk or Nassau County or want additional information.

What Is a Mechanic’s Lien?

A mechanic’s lien is a lien on real property for unpaid labor, services, or supplies that benefitted the owners of that private property. Like other liens in New York, a mechanic’s lien attaches to the property itself. If an owner tries to sell the property, the lien either follows the property and will be the responsibility of the new owner or the selling owner must satisfy the lien.

It’s important to note that only privately owned property is covered by this article. If you want to file a lien on a publicly owned property, that process is subject to different regulations, requirements, and timelines. One of our attorneys can discuss this process with you separately from this article.

Who Can File a Mechanic’s Lien?

If you want to know how to file a mechanic’s lien in NY, you must first find out if you are eligible to file. Generally, the people who can file a mechanic’s lien include the following:

  • Contractors,
  • Subcontractors,
  • Employees of contractors and subcontractors, and 
  • Suppliers.

Anyone who “performs labor or furnishes materials for the improvement of real property” can file a mechanic’s lien if they weren’t paid. 

There is one caveat. If the work required a licensed worker, and the worker was not licensed, they cannot file a mechanic’s lien. The same goes for unlicensed contractors or subcontractors if the law requires them to be licensed. 

How to Put a Lien on a Property in New York

Now that you know about a mechanic’s lien and who can file one, you’d like to learn how to file a mechanic’s lien in NY. Below are some general steps for filing a mechanic’s lien.

Check the Deadlines

The first step in how to put a lien on a property in NY for unpaid work is to make sure that you haven’t missed the deadline for filing. If you try to file too late, your lien will be rejected.

There are two deadlines depending on the specific property. If you’re filing a lien against a single-family dwelling, you only have four months to file. This date is calculated from the last day you performed work, finished the contract, or provided products or services to the property. For any other privately owned property, you have eight months to file. This date is also calculated from the last date work was performed on the property, the date the contract was finished, or the last date where products or services were provided to the property.  

Research Property Owner Information

The next step in how to file a mechanic’s lien in NY is to gather information about the property and its owner. If you only provided a couple of days of work on the property, you may not remember the exact name of the property owner or the address. Be sure to do some research to determine the exact address where the work was performed, an experienced attorney or other mechanic’s lien preparation service will be able to use that information to determine all the information needed for the lien itself, including the owner’s name and the block and lot number.You cannot file a property lien against a property you cannot identify.

Once you have the address, you can look up the property owner’s name. Both Suffolk and Nassau County have online property records search engines. This may allow you to find the name of the person or company who owns the property where you performed work.

Complete a Notice of Mechanic’s Lien

Next, you’ll have to prepare a Notice of Lien. Although you do not need to give the property owner any notice before you file a mechanic’s lien, the document you’ll complete and file with the county clerk is called a Notice of Lien.

Unfortunately, neither Suffolk nor Nassau County Clerks have fillable forms for a mechanic’s lien. Nonetheless, one of the most important steps for how to put a lien on a property in NY is to include all the legally required information on your Notice of Lien.

You’ll need to include the following information on your Notice of Lien:

  • Your name and address;
  • The property owner’s name and address;
  • The name of the company who hired you (if it was a contractor or subcontractor, include their information);
  • A description of the work you performed;
  • The value of the work you performed;
  • The amount of money that you’re owed;
  • The dates you worked on the property; and
  • A description of the property, including the street address, city, state, and zip code and block and lot number.

If you’re having difficulty preparing a Notice of Lien, contact an attorney to help you with this process. Be aware that New York imposes penalties against the person who files a lien if the lien overstates the amount of money owed for the work performed, so it is essential to be accurate with all information on the mechanic’s lien.

Sign and Notarize the Notice of Lien

The next step for how to put a lien on a property in NY is to sign and notarize your Notice of Lien. At the bottom of the Notice of Lien, you’ll need to include a statement that states that you swear, under oath, the information you provided is true to the best of your knowledge.

Then, you’ll need to find a notary public to confirm that you understand this statement and notarize your signature. Do not sign the Notice of Lien until you’re in the notary’s presence. They will need to see you sign the document.  

File and Serve the Mechanic’s Lien 

Next, you’ll file the Notice of Lien with the County Clerk’s office in the county where the property is located. Be sure that you’re in the correct county. 

You then have 30 days to serve the property owner with a copy of the lien. You can serve this in one of the following ways:

  • Personally delivering it to the owner at their last known address
  • Delivering it to the owner’s address and leaving it with someone over 18 years old
  • Sending it by registered or certified mail to their last known address or
  • Affixing it to the property between 9 am and 4 pm.

If a contractor or subcontractor owes you wages, you must also serve them with a copy of the Notice of Lien. Then, you’ll fill out an affidavit stating how you served the Notice of Lien. You’ll file the affidavit of service with the County Clerk as well. In both Nassau and Suffolk County there are filing fees connected with filing the mechanic’s lien as well as the affidavit of service. Additionally, a mechanic’s lien does not remain attached to the property forever, consult with an attorney regarding the timeline where either a renewal of the mechanic’s lien or a lawsuit must be filed if the lien has not been paid.

Contact TonaLaw for a New York Mechanic’s Lien

The steps for how to put a lien on a property in NY for unpaid wages or services are complicated. If you have questions about New York’s mechanic’s lien process, or you were injured in a construction accident, and your wages are unpaid, contact the attorneys at TonaLaw today. We pride ourselves on our compassion and client-centered representation. Call us today to see the TonaLaw difference.

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