Pennsylvania Mechanics' Liens

A mechanics' lien is statutory claim on the land or buildings for the purpose of securing payment of the value of work performed and materials furnished in erecting or repairing a building or other structure erected on land. It is a tool to help contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers ensure payment. It must be filed in the Department of Court Records of the County in which the land is situated.

Who May File?

Contractor: Anyone, including architects or engineers, who contracts with the owner of the property to construct, alter, or repair any building or structure or furnishes labor, skill, materials, fixtures, machinery, or equipment reasonably necessary and used in the improvement.

Subcontractor: Anyone who, by contract with contractor, or in contract with a subcontractor who is in contract with a contractor, constructs, alters, or repairs any building or structure or furnishes labor, skill, materials, fixtures, machinery or equipment necessary for an used in the wok. Subcontractor does not include an architect or engineer who contracts with the contractor or subcontractor, or a person who contracts with a materialsman or subcontractor not in direct contract with the contractor.

So What Does This Mean?

Mechanics' Liens rights are restricted to the Contractor, the Subcontractors, and those with a direct contract with subcontractors (sub-subcontractors). No one below this level of sub-subcontractors has lien rights, which will leave certain suppliers without lien rights.

Pennsylvania Filing Requirements

Mechanics' Lien claims must be filed in the Prothonotary's Office of the county where the property is situated within six months of the claimant's last work.

Contents of Claim

  • Name of the claimant and whether they are filing as a contractor or subcontractor.
  • The name and address of the owner or reputed owner.
  • The date of completion of the claimant's work.
  • If filed by a subcontractor, the name of the person with whom the claimant contracted and the dates that the formal notice was given.
  • A detailed statement of the kind and character of the labor and materials furnished and the price charged for each; BUT if filed by a contractor pursuant to a contract for an agreed sum, an identification of the contract and a statement of the services and materials provided.
  • The amount claimed.
  • A description of the improvement and the property subject to the Lien.

Contractor Filing Deadlines—49 P.S. § 1502

  • Claim must be filed with the Prothonotary of the County in which the property sits within 6 months of the date that the claimant has completed work.
  • Written notice must be provided to the owner within thirty days after filing the claim.
  • Claimant must file an affidavit of service of notice with the Court within 20 days of service.

Subcontractor Filing Deadlines—49 P.S. § 1501

  • 30 days prior to filing claim, subcontractor must give written, formal notice of intention to file claim to owner.
  • Formal notice must include:
    • Name of claimant.
    • Name of person with whom claimant contracted.
    • The amount claimed.
    • The general nature and character of the labor or materials furnished.
    • The date of completion of claimant's work.
    • Description of the property.

Conclusion

Mechanics' Liens are subject to extremely strict guidelines, the slightest deviation from which will completely bar your ability to perfect your lien. There are no technical exceptions or lawful excuses, because you may have other, albeit more arduous, remedies available. Every element of the outlines above contains meticulous details which must be complied with. If you have any questions regarding (1) what mechanics' liens can do; (2) How to avoid them; (3) how file and defend against them; and (4) how to bond them off, call 412-288-4000 or send our PSMN ® Pittsburgh construction attorneys an e-mail by completing the contact form on this website.