There’s a good deal of risk involved in developing a piece of property in North Carolina. If a contractor or subcontractor doesn’t meet your expectations, you could choose not to pay them for their services. But if you do this, the contractor is likely to retaliate, including by filing a mechanic’s lien against your property.
A mechanic’s lien can be a major headache, and it’s a good idea to know how to defend yourself if a contractor files a lien against your property. The Gastonia, NC, business development lawyers at Mullen Holland & Cooper P.A. have helped many developers and property owners handle disputes with contractors, including mechanic’s liens, so keep reading to learn more about how we can help with your case.
What Is a Mechanic’s Lien?
A mechanic’s lien is similar to a bank lien on your home. By filing a mechanic’s lien against your home, a contractor or subcontractor can potentially claim partial ownership of a property as compensation since they were not properly paid for their services or materials. Ownership and title issues are a massive headache for developers, as a lien against your property will make it much more difficult — if not impossible — to sell the property later on.
What Are Some Common Defenses?
If a contractor or subcontractor files a mechanic’s lien against your property, you have ways you can defend yourself and have the lien dismissed. Some of the common defenses used to defeat a mechanic’s lien include:
- Poor craftsmanship or defective work – When contractors or subcontractors do work that doesn’t meet building codes, developers may have to pay another contractor to fix their mistakes or redo the project entirely. In cases like these, you likely don’t have to pay the original contractor or subcontractor for their work.
- Failure to perform – If a contractor or subcontractor fails to perform the work as you requested, did not finish the job, or failed to provide materials you requested, you can argue you should not have to pay them for their work.
- Failure to prove fraud – For a contractor or subcontractor to successfully argue they were defrauded, they’ll have to show there was a written contract for their services or materials. If there is no contract, or if changes were requested but not written down, the contractor or subcontractor may be unable to prove fraud.
- Unused materials – When a contractor does not use all of the materials provided for a project, they should not charge you for those unused materials. Unused materials generally do not substantiate a mechanic’s lien.
- The lien was improperly filed – If there’s some issue with how the lien was filed (for example, the contractor may have filed it against the wrong party), you can have it dismissed.
How a North Carolina Lawyer Could Help
A mechanic’s lien against your property can be a major headache. A business development lawyer can look at the lien, the contract you had with the contractor or subcontractor, the quality of the work that was done, and other factors to find the right defense strategy and have the lien dismissed.
You could try to do this on your own, but an attorney with experience handling these kinds of disputes will know what to look for and how best to present the available evidence. Hiring a lawyer will also save you the time and effort of having to fight off the lien yourself.
The civil litigation attorneys at Mullen Holland & Cooper P.A. have in-depth knowledge of North Carolina’s property laws and have helped many developers resolve mechanic’s liens, both in Gastonia and throughout the state. For more information on how we can help you with your case, call us at 704-864-6751 or contact us online.