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An overview of mechanic’s liens in Virginia

When people in Blacksburg hear about foreclosure, their first thought may be about a family or a business falling behind on their payments to the bank on the loan they took out to buy the real estate. All Virginians, and particularly those who are building or doing significant improvements certain properties, should also be aware about the foreclosure risks associated with mechanic’s liens. For that matter, those who are buying new construction buildings or recently renovated property should also be aware of the problems that may arise with mechanic’s liens.

Basically, any contractor or other business that performs work on certain properties, and whose work is worth more than $150, has a right to a lien on that property for the value of contractor’s parts and labor. If not timely paid, then the business may record a lien against the property under the terms of Virginia law.

The act of recording a mechanic’s lien may alone make it much harder for an owner to conduct a sale or other real estate transaction down the road. Moreover, once the lien is properly recorded, the holder of the lien may foreclose on the lien just as a bank can foreclose on a mortgage. In other words, a property owner, even if she did not agree to the work, can find herself subject to the loss of her property in a foreclosure auction to satisfy the debt tied to a mechanic’s lien.

There are some common defenses available to a mechanic’s lien. For instance, in order to have the benefit of a lien, a contractor claiming a lien must be properly licensed at the time he performs the work. Moreover, he must observe strict deadlines and other legal requirements before foreclosing a mechanic’s lien.

Those who are facing an issue involving a mechanic’s lien should strongly consider speaking with an experienced real estate attorney. Oftentimes this is the only way to ensure that one’s best interests are as fully protected as possible in these situations.