By Casey Jenkins
A young attorney in a Kansas courtroom was surprised when the judge lowered his glasses and proclaimed, “I’ve always been intrigued by liens; they are an area of law ripe for malpractice!” Of course, the young attorney took a second look at his filings and paperwork. It is true; liens are a very technical area of law. You have one shot at filing and perfecting the lien; if the lien is filed incorrectly and all statutory filing requirements are not achieved, the lien may be invalid.
A construction lien is generally an interest in property provided to assure payment for labor or material that was provided to, or for, a piece of property. The lien is created or perfected when the lien claimant satisfies certain statutory conditions and filing requirements. Since liens are created by statute, each and every condition must be met or the lien is invalid. A lien is a powerful tool because it is a preferred secured interest in the property, meaning the property cannot be sold with a “clear” title until the lien is resolved. If all of the required statutory provisions are followed to file a construction lien, then the lien can be foreclosed, giving the lien holder the right to force the sale of the property to satisfy the claim. In each case certain time requirements and notices are required before filing and perfecting a construction lien.
In Nebraska, liens must be filed within certain time periods and must include certain notices.
• If you are a general contractor, subcontractor, or homeowner, certain rights, duties, notices, and obligations apply before a lien can be filed, attached, and foreclosed.
• If you are a property owner and a lien has been filed, you should get an experienced attorney to resolve the lien and protect your interest in your property.
• If you are a general contractor, subcontractor, or material supplier having issues getting timely payment, you should seek an attorney to potentially file a lien to ensure you are paid for your work.