Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Amount of a Mechanic's Lien May Not Be Increased By Amendment

Under New York law, a previously filed mechanic's lien may be amended within 60 days after it is filed (Lien Law Section 12-a).  However, the amount of the lien may not be increased through amendment.  Lien Law Section 12-a specifically limits the amendment to a reduction in the amount of the lien.  If a lienor wants to increase the amount of its lien then the proper course of action is simply to file a second mechanic's lien for the additional amount.  For example if the lienor's first mechanic's lien is for $100,000, and it wants to increase the lien to $200,000, the lienor can simply file a second mechanic's lien for the additional $100,000 in work.  In this scenario, the lienor has two separate $100,000 mechanic's liens securing the full $200,000 debt.  Some lienors will also choose to file a second mechanic's lien for the full amount due and abandon the first lien.  The risk here is that if a payment has been made after the first lien, but before the second lien, then the payment may be a defense to the second lien.  Also, if a mortgage has been recorded against the property after the first lien but before the second lien then the second lien will be subordinate to the mortgage.

Vincent T. Pallaci is a partner at the New York law firm of Kushnick Pallaci, PLLC where his practice concentrates on construction law.

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