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How to Record a Pennsylvania Mechanics Lien—The New Proposed Changes

 The legislature in Pennsylvania has been working on new changes to its mechanic’s lien statutes. This is embodied HB1602 which was introduced in 2011 and is still making its way through committee. Many experts feel a mechanics lien in Pennsylvania will be changed sometime in 2013, so stay tuned. Here are some of the highlights:

 State Construction Notices Directory:   Many consider it “old school” to have to manually fill-out Pennsylvania mechanics lien notices and send them off certified.  With a push to put everything online, this seem to be a reasonable.  So, Pennsylvania decided to mirror the experience of Utah which has many of its mechanic’s lien forms online.   Pennsylvania will design an Internet site where the required notices (including the Notice of Commencement and Notice of Furnishing) will be filed online and available for everyone to view.  Reasonable fees will be charged. Once a document is filed, a hard copy can be printed as a receipt.

 This primarily relates to the pre-lien requirements of a sub or supplier in being entitled to a mechanic’s lien in Pennsylvania.  Pay attention to this registry–if a Notice of Commencement has been filed online, you must file a Notice of Furnishing within 20 days of first furnishing labor or materials to the site.  Fortunately, there will be an index by county and searchable by owner’s name, general contractor’s name, and property address.

 Notice of Commencement:  The owner may (not required–merely an option) file a Notice of Commencement with the state registry.  This will be done with a standardized form. It gives all relevant information so a sub or supplier can file his or her Notice of Furnishing, which as we know, is a condition to ultimately filing a Pennsylvania mechanic’s lien.  Additionally, the Notice must be posted at the job site and the owner must take reasonable steps during construction to make sure it remains posted and available for view.

 Subs Pre-Lien:  Notice of Furnishing.   As of 2007 the state no longer required the preliminary notice called “Subcontractor’s Preliminary Notice”.  It has now returned as a requirement—the first step in ultimately recording a mechanic’s lien in Pennsylvania. It is now called a Notice of Furnishing. This Notice will also be filed with the registry and is required only if a Notice of Commencement is filed online. Make sure you search the registry on a regular basis to see whether that Notice of Commencement was filed. It is our recommendation to serve it automatically, just to be safe.

 The Notice must be filed with the registry within 20 days of first furnishing your labor or materials. But unlike Utah which allows everything to be online, it must also be served by certified mail on the owner within that time period. It will be in the form prescribed on the Internet. You may serve in late, but you can only file a Pennsylvania mechanic’s lien for the unpaid services within 20 days of service.

 Note that you must also follow existing law and serve a notice of intent to lien within 30 days before the recording your mechanic’s lien.

 Mechanics Lien:   If the legislation is approved, there will also be a change in the timing of recording a Pennsylvania mechanic’s lien. It must be recorded within four months, not six months, of completion of your portion of the work. It will not be recorded with the registry, but will be filed with clerk of the county Court of Common Pleas.