Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and others in the Northeast were pummeled with the #Nemo storm and snow over the weekend. I can confirm the reports first hand as I’ve spent the last two day sin Cambridge, MA, where snow on the sidewalk is nearly taller than me.
Everywhere I looked was construction machinery or machinery of some sort working to clear the snow. Clearing the snow from walkways, from driveways, from roadways and more. It got me thinking – can you file a lien for this?
Mechanics Lien Against Private Property For Snow Clearing Work
Let’s start by analyzing the rules applicable to private works. If you were performing snow clearing work for a private owner (like a university) and were not paid, you would look to the state’s mechanics lien laws to see if you can protect yourself with a mechanics lien claim.
Whether you can or cannot file a mechanics lien is going to boil down to what is “lienable work” under the state’s mechanics lien statutory scheme. Zlien’s mechanics lien law resources page provides this information for every state under the first FAQs for the state’s laws, marked: “Who Can Lien?“
Looking at Massachusetts as an example, the FAQ provides as follows:
In Massachusetts, any party who furnishes labor or materials to the construction, alteration, repair, or removal of a structure on land, or the land itself is entitled to mechanic’s lien protection.
Will this include the removal of snow from the grounds of a university or facility? Close call. What do you think?
Bond Claim If Snow Removal Part of State Contract
Things are a bit clearer for those furnishing snow removal services under a state contract. At least when dealing with work for the state, county or municipality, it is clear that a bond claim may be filed when there is a bond issued. Duh! The real question is whether a bond must be issued.
Under the Little Miller Act in Massachusetts, the following requires a bond:
the construction, reconstruction, alteration, remodeling, repair or demolition of public buildings or other public works
The phrase “other public works” really leaves the door open here. There may be some exceptions in the law for emergency response contracts and the like, but the take away here should be that these state contracts probably do require some type of bond, and therefore, a bond claim is probably possible on this work.