Mechanic’s Lien: Who is it Against?
Assume you are a subcontractor on a commercial project. Although you are not certain, you are of the impression the owner has made dispersements for your portion of the work directly to the prime. But after a number of calls to no avail, the money is not filtering through into your pocket. Can you file a mechanic’s lien against the prime contractor?
Definitely not. A mechanic’s lien and can only be against the owner’s title. This is because it is an in rem proceeding. This means that it relates only to the real property in question which would be the project itself.
For example, you could not put a lien against the prime contractor’s place of business.
But on the other hand, you do have legal avenues of redress. First of all, in many states if the money is not forthcoming within a prompt payment act, there can be finance charges assessed and even grounds for discipline against the prime contractor.
And of course, you can always bring an independent civil action against the prime contractor, for breach of contract, whether written or verbal, change orders, unjust enrichment, and account stated. National lien law can help you with those lawsuit templates.