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Thread: Sub contractor showed up and threatened to file a lien

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    Sub contractor showed up and threatened to file a lien

    My pool has been finished for about 45 days. The GC has been paid in full. Apparently the GC didn't pay the plaster guy so he showed up at my house tonight and said he would be forced to file a lien if he doesn't get his money. What legal options do I have here?

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    Melt In The Sun's Avatar
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    Re: Sub contractor showed up and threatened to file a lien

    It is probably covered by your contract with the GC...you need to check and see what's in there before you tell this plaster guy anything!
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    Re: Sub contractor showed up and threatened to file a lien

    I had a garage built and had a similar experience. The sub was going to file a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mechanic's_lien . I called the GC and 3 way in the sub and they worked it out. FWIW the only real issue that would affect me was if they didn't work things out and I wanted to sell the house I would have a lien on the property. I just let it go. I knew I would be in the house long after the 2 had "expired" because of their age.
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    Re: Sub contractor showed up and threatened to file a lien

    Talk to the GC and see if he has paid the plaster contractor. If he says the contractor was paid you can ask the GC for copies of the cancelled checks to prove he paid the plaster contractor. If he tries to avoid answering the question or refuses to give you copies of the cancelled checks consult with an attorney.
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    Re: Sub contractor showed up and threatened to file a lien

    You have a risk of paying it twice if the PB does not pay. So you need to ensure it is resolved and that all other subs were paid too.

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    Re: Sub contractor showed up and threatened to file a lien

    Let me make sure I'm getting this right. The General Contractor, the guy you hired to and have a contract with to build your pool has been paid by you. Now one of the people the general contractor hired to subcontract the plaster work on your pool has come to you and says he hasn't been paid?

    If what I said is correct then you can literally laugh in the plaster guys face and tell him to go pound sand, that is if you wanted to be mean about it. Regardless the subcontractor has no legal ground to stand on as I have experienced this first hand when I was getting work done on my house. In my situation I got screwed over by a GC that was finishing my basement and the owner of the garbage container that was subcontracted by the GC said he wasn't paid even though I paid the GC which was supposed to cover his fees.

    Anyways as my lawyer had pointed out to me it all comes down to that your contract was with the GC and not any of their employees or subcontractors. If they have a problem they have to bring it up with whoever hired them.

    The plaster guy might know this and just try to scare you to get you to give money.

    If he does try to sue you then get a lawyer (unless its a magistrate, then just go there as any appeals will go to higher courts)
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    Re: Sub contractor showed up and threatened to file a lien

    A Mechanic's lien is a real possibility if the subcontractor has not been paid. If a subcontractor provides material or labor that improves the property, then they can potentially claim an interest in that property if they are not paid for what they provided that improved the property.

    Laws vary by state. For example, here is what California says:

    What is a Mechanics Lien?
    A mechanics lien is a "hold" against your property, filed by an unpaid contractor, subcontractor, laborer, or material supplier, and is recorded with the county recorder's office. If unpaid, it allows a foreclosure action, forcing the sale of the property in lieu of compensation.

    A lien can result when the prime contractor (referred to as a "direct contractor" in mechanics lien revision statutes, effective July 1, 2012) has not paid subcontractors, laborers, or suppliers. Legally, the homeowner is ultimately responsible for payment even if they already have paid the direct contractor.

    What happens when a lien is filed against your property?
    A lien can result in a range of problems, which include:

    Foreclosure (if the homeowner doesn't pay the lien);
    Double payment for the same job (if the homeowner pays the direct contractor, and he/she does not have to pay the subcontractor, laborer, or supplier); and/or
    A recorded lien on the property title (which can affect the owner's ability to borrow against, refinance, or sell the property).

    View Civil Code sections 8000 to 9566 or seek legal assistance for more information about mechanics liens.

    http://www.cslb.ca.gov/consumers/legali ... csLien.asp
    I would suggest that you check the laws in your state and try to work this out to everyone's satisfaction. You might need to consult an attorney if all parties involved cannot reach agreement.

    http://www.fullertonlaw.com/docs/append ... rights.pdf

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    Re: Sub contractor showed up and threatened to file a lien

    I agree with James. It depends on the laws in the state in which you live. In Texas, there may be special time requirements that may apply and they may have waited to late to file a lien, but if they are still in time and file a lien, then you could be at risk of paying for it twice. I would start with questioning the PB and see what he says about this guy being paid. I would not give out too much information yet. I would ask for an affidavit stating that all the subcontractors have been paid. If he gives it to you that would give you an additional argument or leverage against him. Next, I would ask about this specific sub and ask for a status. I have a feeling that once you raise the issue, it will be resolved. If not, then you may have bigger problems meaning that other subs may not have been paid.

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    Re: Sub contractor showed up and threatened to file a lien

    Interesting james, looks like my law is similar in PA. Guess my lawyer was wrong.
    "Defense of Payment: Owner's Responsibility for Payment to Subcontractors
    There is no automatic defense of payment for the Pennsylvania project owner.That is, the owner can be required to pay for the project twice.Even if the owner has paid the general contractor in full, a subcontractor will be able to establish a lien and eventually foreclose on the property.The burden is on the owner to make sure that all subcontractors are paid.

    An owner can create a defense of payment by filing a copy of the general contract or a stipulation in the prothonotary's (clerk's) office before commencing construction.1 This will limit each subcontractor to a pro-rata share of money still owed the general contractor.2"


    It's kind of sad though. It says that homeowner could potentially pay for the project twice. Seems like some kind of "bizzaro world" rules we have going on here.

    Maybe this is why I'm not a lawyer! Although I'm surprised the lawyer I spoke to apparently got it 100% wrong.
    -Kevin
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    Re: Sub contractor showed up and threatened to file a lien

    In Texas the concept is based upon the logic or illogic that your home has been increased in value by work of a third party who was not paid. The PB is your agent. So if your agent fails to pay the sub, it is the same as you not paying.

    This is why many people insist that the PB provide an affidavit at the end of a job stating that all subs have been paid or even better provide affidavits from all the subs stating that they have been paid in full. If the PB is not going to pay a sub, he may be willing to sign an affidavit teling you he did when he did not. In some extreme cases home owners do not pay the PB, but instead pay the subs directly.

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