New York Mechanics Lien & Notice Chart
It’s easy to file New York mechanics liens with zlien, the web’s leading all-in-one mechanics lien compliance manager and security platform. Plus, zlien’s platform can help you prepare and file mechanics lien cancellations, preliminary notices, and more. To learn more about New York’s mechanics lien law, read the frequently asked questions below.
Frequently Asked Questions
- New York Mechanics Lien FAQ
- Who Can File a New York Mechanics Lien?
- When is the Deadline to File a New York Mechanics Lien?
- Do I Need to Send Notice the Lien Was Recorded?
- Can I include Attorney’s Fees, Collection Costs, or Other Amounts in the Lien Total?
- When is the Deadline to Enforce a New York Mechanics Lien, or, How Long is My Lien Effective?
- Will My New York Lien Have Priority Over Pre-Existing Mortgages or Construction Loans?
- Must the New York Lien Include a Legal Property Description?
- Must the New York Lien be Notarized?
- Can I File a New York Lien if I’m Unlicensed?
- Can I File a New York Lien on a Condominium Project?
- Who Cancels the New York Lien if/when I get Paid?
- What Are the Lien Waiver Rules?
- New York Preliminary Notice FAQs
- Do I Need to Send a New York Preliminary Notice?
- When do I Need to Send a New York Preliminary Notice?
- What if I Send the New York Preliminary Notice Late?
- How Should the New York Preliminary Notice be Sent?
- Do I Have to Send the New York Preliminary Notice to Someone Other than the Owner?
- Is the New York Preliminary Notice Requirement met when sent or delivered?
Who Can File a New York Mechanics Lien?
In New York mechanics lien protection is fairly broad, and extends to every “contractor, subcontractor, laborer, materialman, landscape gardener, nurseryman or person or corporation selling fruit or ornamental trees, roses, shrubbery, vines and small fruits, who performs labor or furnishes materials for the improvement of real property.” Except for suppliers, a lien claimant’s tier on a project is inconsequential. There are some exceptions, however. A lien claimant must be licensed to do the work (if a license is required), and must be authorized to do business in New York. The lack of a license, or authorization to do business when required is fatal to the lien claim. A supplier to a supplier is not allowed to file a mechanic’s lien in New York.
Once you determine that you have a right to claim a lien, it is very important that you properly identify yourself on the mechanics lien claim itself. Last year, a controversial trial court decision invalidated a mechanics lien claim because of a very technical defect in how the claimant wrote out its name.
Beware also of the possible situation where construction work is being performed for a private party on public land. In this instance, the private party is likely renting land or space from a public entity. Even though a private entity is commissioning the work, that does not entitle the work to lien rights. In fact, there is some confusion about this in New York, which we explored in “No Mechanics Lien Rights When Working on Private Improvement on Public Property in New York.”
When is the Deadline to File a New York Mechanics Lien?
In New York, the deadline by which a mechanic’s lien must be filed is dependent upon the project type. Generally, liens may be filed at any time during the project, and within 8 months after the completion of the contract, the final furnishing of work or materials, or the final performance of the work. If the lien concerns a single-family residence, the lien may be filed at any time during the project and within 4 months after the completion of the contract, the final furnishing of work or materials, or the final performance of the work. Review this article to learn about what happens in the interesting situation when a two family home is being converted to a single family home.
Liens for brokerage commissions must be filed after the services have been provided and the execution of the lease, and within no later than 8 months after the lease has been executed.
While calculating the “lien period” is sometimes subject to factual dispute, a New York court has indicated that a mechanics lien will not be invalidated if such a dispute exists so long as the lien claim indicates that work or materials were furnished to the project within the lien period.
Finally, while it is always a good idea to file your mechanics lien claim as immediately as you know about an outstanding debt, there is always the nagging issue of retainage. Retainage is sometimes not due (or paid) for months after a project is completed. Well, New York’s lien law was recently amended to address this situation, and allows parties to file a lien in the state within 90 days after the retainage payment is actually due. Read about it here: Crossing the Bridge When You Get There: Why New York Builders Should No Longer Worry About Losing Lien Rights.
Do I Need to Send Notice the Lien Was Recorded?
Yes. New York requires that a copy of the lien be served on the owner of the property. The copy of the lien must be served within 5 days before, or 30 days after filing the notice of lien. The failure to file proof of the service of a copy of the lien with the county clerk of the county in which the lien is filed within 35 days after the lien is filed is fatal to the lien. Further, until the service of the lien on the owner, the owner is protected in any payment made in good faith to a lien claimant. Lien claimants other than the general contractor should also serve a copy of the lien claim on the general contractor.
Can I include Attorney’s Fees, Collection Costs, or Other Amounts in the Lien Total?
No. In New York, the lien claim should be limited to the amount unpaid labor, material and equipment supplied to the project. Indirect or consequential damages are not allowed in New York. However, extra charges and change orders agreed to by the property owner may be included in the lien claim.
Be careful about the amount you claim within your mechanics lien. If you exaggerate your lien claim there could be severe consequences. This is a pretty complicated subject because the idea of what is and what is not allowed in a mechanics lien can oftentimes be a bit tenuous. See this article about a recent NY case on the subject: New York Rules On What Is A Fictitious Lien.
While an exaggeration of your claim qualifies the owner or prime contractor to sue you and recover significant damages and penalties, these claims are very hard for the owner or prime contractor to prove, which is a benefit for lienors. We discussed this difficulty in the articles New York Exaggerated Lien Claims More Difficult To Prove After Recent Appeals Decision and Lien Exaggeration Grounds To Dismiss A Lawsuit in New York?
When is the Deadline to Enforce a New York Mechanics Lien, or, How Long is My Lien Effective?
In New York, a mechanics lien is generally effective for one year after its filing, and an action to enforce the lien must be initiated within that period of time. However, New York also allows for a mechanics lien to be extended, potentially more than once, to extend the effective period of the lien. More information on New York lien extensions can be found here.
Note also a recent controversial appeals decision in New York that makes the time frame for filing a 2nd lien extension (one that requires a court order) more controversial and uncertain: New York Mechanics Lien Extension Rules Cloudy With A Chance Of Controversy.
Will My New York Lien Have Priority Over Pre-Existing Mortgages or Construction Loans?
Generally, pre-existing mortgages will have priority over a mechanics lien claim. Construction loans or “building loan contracts” are more complex, however. If filed before a mechanics lien claim they could have priority over lien claims, but only if the requirements of Lien Law Section 22 are met. The requirements to meet this Section 22 are strictly construed by the courts, as discussed in a recent Court of Appeals decision ruling in favor of a mechanics lien claimant. That case, Altshuler Shaham Provident Funds v. GML Tower, is discussed on our blog here: New York Mechanics Lien Priority – Who’s On First?
A mechanics lien generally has priority over encumbrances to the property recorded after the project began. As always in mechanic’s liens, certain exceptions apply. As between mechanics liens, the priority is based on tiers if there is not enough money to fully satisfy all claims. The order of preference is as follows: 1) laborers, 2) subs and suppliers of subs, 3) subs and suppliers of general, 4) general. All claims in each tier must be satisfied before moving on to the next tier.
More information also available in this article: New York Mechanics Lien Law – Priority – Lien v. Mortgage.
Must the New York Lien Include a Legal Property Description?
No. In New York, a mechanics lien requires an description of “the property subject to the lien. . .sufficient for identification; and if in a city or village, its location by street and number, if known.” A full legal description is not required. Recorders in New York City, however, specifically require the block and lot of the property in order to file a mechanics lien.
Must the New York Lien be Notarized?
Yes. New York requires a mechanic’s lien to be notarized in order to be valid.
Can I File a New York Lien if I’m Unlicensed?
No. New York has strict licensing requirements. If the claimant is required to have a license, the claimant must be licensed in order to claim a lien. Further, the claimant must be authorized to do business in New York. If a general contractor on a residential home improvement project does not have a home improvement contractor’s license, his subcontractors are also prohibited form bringing a lien against the property. Further, if the general lacks a home improvement contractor’s license (even if the job is not entirely residential in nature) the contractor is not allowed a lien on the property and is forbidden form filing a breach of contract action.
Can I File a New York Lien on a Condominium Project?
Yes mechanics lien may be filed against a project involving a condominium, provided the lien claimant would otherwise have valid mechanic lien rights.
Who Cancels the New York Lien if/when I get Paid?
Once a lien claimant receives payment, the lien may be cancelled “by the certificate of the lienor, duly acknowledged or proved and filed in the office where the notice of lien is filed, stating that the lien is satisfied or released as to the whole or a portion of the real property affected thereby and may be discharged in whole or in part, specifying the part. Upon filing such certificate, the county clerk in the office where the same is filed, shall note the fact of such filing in the “lien docket” in the column headed “Proceedings had” opposite the docket of such lien.”
What Are the Lien Waiver Rules?
New York does not have statutory lien waiver forms, and therefore, you can use any lien waiver forms. Since lien waivers are unregulated, be careful when reviewing and signing lien waivers. See this article: Should You Sign That Lien Waiver?
Also, New York state law prohibits contractors and suppliers from waiving their right to file a mechanics lien in contract. This is examined more closely in the article “Final Waiver is not always final in New York,” and you can learn more about the prohibition of such “no lien clauses” across the United States at this article: Where Can You Waive Your Lien Rights Before Payment?
Do I Need to Send a New York Preliminary Notice?
No. However, any party may send a notice of intent to lien in an attempt to facilitate payment, or a general informational preliminary notice, if so desired.
When do I Need to Send a New York Preliminary Notice?
N/A. A Notice of Intent to Lien or general preliminary notice may be sent at any time.
What if I Send the New York Preliminary Notice Late?
N/A. A Notice of Intent to Lien or general preliminary notice may be sent at any time.
How Should the New York Preliminary Notice be Sent?
N/A. A Notice of Intent to Lien or general preliminary notice may be sent by any method.
Do I Have to Send the New York Preliminary Notice to Someone Other than the Owner?
N/A. A Notice of Intent to Lien or general preliminary notice may be sent to any party desired.
Is the New York Preliminary Notice Requirement met when sent or delivered?