Using Mechanics Liens to Get Paid

UPDATE: Baker Law is a registered e-Filer in Illinois, and Jeremy can e-file lien claims despite the COVID-19 public health emergency. The process typically takes 1-3 weeks. However, the closure of the Cook County Recorder of Deeds Office, and the disruption it creates for attorneys and title companies, may delay the process. Some potential lien claimants might miss their deadlines to record mechanics liens. Others might choose to begin the process earlier – out of an abundance of caution – to make a lien claim.

Jeremy has recovered millions of dollars for architect, engineer, and contractor clients using mechanics liens. He frequently records lien claims against projects in the Chicagoland area. When necessary and strategic, Jeremy also files lawsuits to foreclose lien claims to help his clients collect past due accounts receivable. Jeremy has both litigated against – and represented – property owners, developers, and lenders in mechanics lien and mortgage foreclosure litigation. If you are considering a mechanics lien claim, please contact us here to start the process.

What Deadlines Must I Meet to Make a Lien Claim?

The Illinois Mechanics Lien Act imposes a variety of short deadlines. There are various types of liens and each have different deadlines. In some cases, your last date of substantive work starts the clock running. Other liens have earlier deadlines, sometimes near the project outset. Liens on private projects, and their deadlines, differ from public project liens. If you have a contract with the property owner, your deadlines are different than if another party hired you. Often, it is difficult to determine – with certainty – a lien claimant’s true deadline to record a lien until a Title Company performs research into the real property records. With mechanics liens, the golden rule is simple: start the process early.

What Information Is Needed to Make a Lien Claim?

Usually, attorneys need this kind of information to record a mechanics lien:

  • Whether the project is on public or private land
  • Your last date of substantive work on the project
  • Copies of your contracts and proposals for the project
  • The identities of other parties involved in the project
  • The complete name of the client that hired you
  • The street address of the location of the project
  • The legal description of that property
  • The 14-digit Property Index Number (PIN) for the property
  • The identity of the property owner listed on the deed
  • Other parties with an interest in the property, like lenders
  • Payment applications, sworn statements, and lien waivers
  • Whether any parties might have claims against you
  • Your project labor detail report (showing hours, dates, dollars)
  • A project accounting with specific content in a specific format
  • Other project-specific and property-specific facts

Some of this information – like PIN Numbers, the identity of the property owner on the deed, the identity of lenders – must be obtained through Title Company research. Potential lien claimants need to begin the process sufficiently early for their attorneys to hire a Title Company to perform the necessary research into the property records.

Won’t Recording A Lien Upset My Client?

Possibly…but who cares? No prudent business owner would intentionally allow their deadline to record a lien claim pass for this reason. Doing so tells your client you are not serious about collecting past due payments, and invites them to not pay you!

Do property owners and developers often try to dissuade architects, engineers, and contractors from recording lien claims? Yes, often! Do they try to convince designers and contractors that the project will collapse, or the lender will foreclose its mortgage, if lien claims are recorded? Yes, absolutely! Is that true? Occasionally…but who cares? Sophisticated property owners, developers, and lenders understand that designers and contractors who record liens are simply being prudent, not looking to pick a fight. They often pay lien claimants first. Also, once you have been paid, it is very simple, quick, and inexpensive to release the mechanics lien claim.

NOTE: Baker Law only records mechanics lien claims in Illinois.

Sophisticated property owners, developers, and lenders understand that designers and contractors who record liens are simply being prudent, not looking to pick a fight.

Don’t miss your deadline to make a client claim!