Lien Into it—What’s a Mechanic’s Lien?

Mechanic's Lien

Remodeling your home can be a wonderful and exciting experience. What’s not so exciting and wonderful is the fact that if the subcontractors who worked on your home did not get paid, they can file a lien against your home to recover the money—even though you paid the general contractor for that job.

Welcome to the world of materialman’s or mechanic’s liens.

What is a Mechanic’s Lien?

Mechanic’s liens allow people who contribute labor or materials to improve a new or existing home to get paid when the general contractor fails to pay them. Mechanic’s liens (also called a “materialman’s lien”) are typically used by subcontractors and suppliers. They are a legal claim that is made against property (your home) that has been remodeled or improved.

For example, if you are remodeling your kitchen, and the subcontractor who put in the cabinets isn’t paid for his work or the materials he supplied, he can place a lien against your house to recover what he is owed. Yes, even if you paid the general contractor in full for the job.

If the subcontractor or supplier isn’t paid by the general contractor, the law allows the subcontractors to come after you and the property that was improved (i.e., your house) in order to get paid.


Because the law takes the position that as between the person with the improved property (you) and the person who supplied the material or labor who did not get paid, the supplier’s needs are greater. The law also presumes that you can sue the general contractor. This isn’t very helpful to you, of course, because lawsuits take time and money to pursue and the outcome is uncertain. For example, by the time you get a judgment against the general contractor, he may be bankrupt.

If a subcontractor files a mechanic’s lien against your property, he typically has two to six months to work out a solution with you (the property owner) or file a lawsuit. The good news is that if the subcontractor does not file his lawsuit in time, the lien should have no further effect. However, you will still have a lien of record against your property. So you will still need to get a court order expunging the lien to clear title to your property. If you don’t, you may run into difficulties selling the property down the road.

The Legal Guidance You Need

If you have problems regarding your real estate, call us. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein exclusively practice real estate law. We have the experience that can help guide you to solutions. Our offices are in Cumming, Georgia, and we serve Atlanta and a number of the surrounding counties including:  Clayton County, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Douglas County, Fulton County, and Paulding County, among others.  You can contact us here or call us at 770-888-7707 to schedule your free phone consultation.

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