Saturday, May 22, 2010

New York Mechanic's Lien FAQ

This is intended simply as a quick reference guide for common questions that come up regarding mechanic's liens in New York . For specific inquiries please feel free to contact me. 

1.  Who Can File A Mechanic's Lien?

In general, anyone performing labor or furnishing materials for the improvement of real property may file a mechanic's lien when the labor or materials were requested by the owner or its agent. It should go without saying that the lien can only be filed if money is owed. Some typical lienors are contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, architects, engineers and in some cases construction managers.

2.  How Long Do I Have To File A Lien?

A lien filed against a residential single family private dwelling must be filed within four months of the last performance of labor or furnishing of materials. A lien filed against any other private property must be filed within eight months after the completion of the contract, or the final performance of the work, or the final furnishing of the materials.  A lien against a public improvement must be filed within 30 days of the time that the public project is completed and accepted by the public entity.  A lien that is solely for retainage may be filed at any time within 90 days of the time that the retainage became due.

3.  How Long Does My Mechanic's Lien Last?

The lien is valid for one year. After that you must take steps to extend the lien. If not extended or foreclosed upon, the lien will expire by operation of law.

4.  How Do I Foreclose on a Mechanic's Lien?

Foreclosing on a mechanic's lien is a fairly complicated process that involves filing a formal lawsuit. There are specific people that must be included in the lawsuit and other specific requirements that justify retaining an attorney to handle the foreclosure.

5.  What Do I Do If I Am Served With A Mechanic's Lien?

You have three options: 1) bond the lien; 2) commence legal proceedings to discharge the lien; or 3) do nothing (not recommend under most circumstances). For bonding the lien or attempting to discharge the lien through the court systems it is strongly recommended that you consult with an attorney.

6.  What Happens If I File A Lien That Is Not Accurate?

This is really a two part problem. First of all, a lien that is defective on its face (meaning in the actual terms set forth in the lien) can be summarily discharged and will not protect you. Second, filing an improper lien can expose you to liability, especially in the case of a "willfully exaggerated lien" where you are subject to treble damages and attorneys fees being awarded against you.

Vincent T. Pallaci is a partner at the New York law firm of Kushnick Pallaci, PLLC where his practice focuses primarily on the area of construction law.  He can be reached at (631) 752-7100 or

1 comment:

  1. Very good summary of the most frequently asked questions about liens in any state...and here, clearly, about the NY lien requirements. I like your site...I have run across it today for the first time. Will be subscribing because I do a lot of lien work. First, as a lawyer in WA, OR, and LA (, but also through a lien service I started that files nationwide (