A mechanic’s lien can be placed on real estate (or even machines) for unpaid improvements made by a contractor. Any building that has been erected or repaired to the extent of 15 percent of its value is subject to such a lien. This is more valuable than getting a normal civil judgment (which is also an option) because liens can be used to force the sale of the real estate so you get paid.
The Mechanic’s Lien Process in Maryland
A complaint to establish a mechanic’s lien must be filed within 180 days in the Circuit Court where the real estate is located after the contractor has completed the work or furnished materials. Subcontractors who wish to establish an mechanic’s lien have 90 days to provide the real estate owner with a notice in the form described in Md. Real Prop. Code § 9-104.
According to Md. Real Prop. Code § 9-105 a complaint for a mechanic’s lien must contain:
- The name and address of the petitioner;
- The name and address of the owner;
- The nature or kind of work done or the kind and amount of materials furnished, the time when the work was done or the materials furnished, the name of the person for whom the work was done or to whom the materials were furnished, and the amount or sum claimed to be due, less any credit recognized by the petitioner;
- A description of the land, including a statement whether part of the land is located in another county, and a description adequate to identify the building;
- If the petitioner is a subcontractor, facts showing that the notice required under § 9–104 of this subtitle was properly mailed or served upon the owner, or, if so authorized, posted on the building. If the lien is sought to be established against two or more buildings on separate lots or parcels of land owned by the same person, the lien will be postponed to other mechanics’ liens unless the petitioner designates the amount he claims is due him on each building;
- An affidavit by the petitioner or some person on his behalf, setting forth facts upon which the petitioner claims he is entitled to the lien in the amount specified;
- Either original or sworn, certified, or photostatic copies of material papers or parts thereof, if any, which constitute the basis of the lien claim, unless the absence thereof is explained in the affidavit.
If the Court believes that the petitioner has submitted a complaint that has a reasonable basis to establish a lien, then it will issue a show cause order for the owner to respond by filing a counter complaint or verified answer as to why the owner should not pay. If the owner fails to respond then the facts are deemed admitted.
If there is no genuine dispute as to any material facts, a final order will be entered, otherwise, there will be a hearing. If the petitioner is awarded a lien its effective date is the date of the order.