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There's a mechanics lien on my home. What does that mean?

Like many other Texas residents, you may have decided to renovate part or all of your home. After months of dealing with the general contractor, subcontractors and suppliers, your home finally looks the way you always envisioned. 

Then you find out that someone filed a mechanic's lien on your home. As far as you know, everyone received payment for the goods and services they provided. So, where did this claim come from and what does it mean for you?

What is a mechanic's lien?

This type of lien allows someone who provided improvements or services to your home to claim the right to your home if you owe that party debt. First, you need to know that the lien does not affect any of your other property or you personally. The person filing the lien cannot garnish your wages or take any other collection action. However, it may be possible for the contractor to force you into foreclosure.

Why do they call it a "mechanic's" lien? It wasn't my car that got renovated

Even though vehicle mechanics can file these liens, they actually apply to many more categories of people. Some of them include the following:

  • General contractors
  • Subcontractors
  • Plumbers
  • Carpenters
  • Construction workers
  • Painters
  • Landscapers

This list fails to include all of those who may be eligible to file a mechanic's lien on your home. Anyone who provided services or supplies for your home renovation could file one.

What can I do about it?

First, you need to determine the validity of the lien. To carry any weight, the right person must file it. If a subcontractor who worked on your house filed it, you might need to check to see whether that subcontractor filed a lien waiver in your favor. In many instances, you rely on the general contractor to pay the subcontractors. When you provided the funds to the general contractor, you expected him or her to pay everyone else.

The filing of the lien must fall within the time limits established by law. If it wasn't, it might not be valid. Also, the person filing the lien may only do so against the property he or she worked on for you. Therefore, if you own more than one home, the mechanic's lien can't be filed on your other home.

You may need help

Since the filer of a mechanic's lien could force you into foreclosure, it requires immediate attention. Since there may be more for you to understand concerning what Texas law says about these liens, it may be helpful to discuss the matter with someone who can answer your questions.

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William T. Peckham
1104 Nueces Street, Suite 104
Austin, TX 78701
Phone: 512-487-7604
Fax: 512-478-1790
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