Here’s One Way to Get Paid: Georgia’s Mechanics Liens

Since the 1800’s, Georgia has had laws on the books that protect skilled workers like masons and carpenters when it comes to getting paid for their work. The statute which allows materialmen to file a lien against real property in order to get paid (called a “mechanic’s” or “materialmen’s” lien), has undergone a number of modifications since the 1800s. It now allows for other workers in the construction arena, such as registered architects and engineers, contractors, subcontractors, materialmen, suppliers and others who provide labor, materials or services for the construction or improvement of real property, to file mechanic’s liens if necessary.

The Idea Behind Mechanic’s Liens

It is common in construction projects for the work not to be paid for in advance. Instead, most projects are paid for in a piecemeal fashion. In other words, the work is paid for when certain milestones in the construction are met or completed. Because construction does not lend itself to being “repossessed” or taken back if it is not paid for, construction lien laws were enacted to encourage development by providing a way in which contractors and others could get paid for their work if for any reason the general contractor did not pay them, or the owner refused to pay or went bankrupt etc. Mechanic’s liens allow contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and others to file a legal claim against the property improved by their labor, materials or services.

Some Rules Regarding Mechanic’s Liens

While not very complicated, there are a number of rules that apply to materialmen’s liens.

Who Can File a Claim?

First is who can file a mechanic’s lien. In Georgia, the list is fairly comprehensive. A claim of lien can be filed by: mechanics of all sorts who have taken no personal security for work done or materials furnished, contractors, subcontractors, materialmen to contractors or subcontractors, laborers, registered architects, registered surveyors, registered professional engineers, contractors/subcontractors/materialmen furnishing material to subcontractors, machinists/manufacturers of machinery, equipment rentors.

When Does a Claim Have to be Filed?

There is only one deadline for when a claim of lien must be filed. The deadline is within 90 days of the date the claimant last supplied labor or materials.

Do You Need to Have a License to File a Mechanic’s Lien?

While the law in Georgia is not crystal clear on this point, in general, to have valid mechanic lien rights, any entity that is required by state law to be licensed, must have a license.

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