Experienced Mechanics Lien Lawyer in Chicago, Illinois

The Illinois Mechanics Lien Act is a powerful tool that helps people get paid for design and construction. However, Illinois mechanics lien law is extraordinarily complex. If the content of a lien claim is not precisely accurate, the lien can have little value. Experienced mechanics lien attorneys can use minor typos to defeat lien claims. Jeremy prepares and records Mechanics Lien claims with great caution. He has successfully protected property owner and developer clients from dozens of liens with minor technical defects.

To make a lien claim, click here.
To defeat a lien claim, click here.


What is a Mechanics Lien?

A lien claim is an interest in property which can “attach” to the land and buildings were the project is located. Like mortgages, mechanics liens can be “foreclosed” through lawsuits. Often, it is unnecessary for lien claimants to file suit to get paid. This is because property owners, developers, and lenders all know that lien claimants who prevail on lien foreclosure lawsuits can force a “judicial sale” of the property. Proceeds from the judicial sale are used to pay off claims against the property. The act of recording a lien “secures” the claim for payment by attaching it to valuable property.

Why is the Illinois Mechanics Lien Act so Pro-Claimant?

Lien claimants who satisfy the Act’s requirements can “leapfrog” ahead of other claims against the property. Liens recorded later-in-time can often get “priority” in the sale proceeds over claims recorded earlier-in-time, like mortgages. Lenders make loans assuming the value of the property secures their loan. They dislike mechanics liens. No lender wants architects, engineers, or contractors to have the power to force a sale of the property. That imperils the value of their mortgages. Lenders often bring pressure on property owners and developers to settle, or bond over, lien claims.

Why Are Illinois Mechanics Liens So Complicated?

The Illinois Mechanics Lien Act imposes short deadlines. They must be timely met, and with exacting precision. The Lien Act is over a century old. Its archaic language can confuse even experienced judges and attorneys. The Act does not identify all the content which must be included in mechanics lien claims. To know the required content, drafters of valid mechanics lien claims must be steeped in decades of caselaw. Also, each project, property, and claimant are different. To draft a lien claim, attorneys must almost always hire a Title Company to prepare a “Tract Search” as a first step. They can take weeks, robbing lien claimants of time needed to record their liens. Drafting lien claims requires judgment and strategy – and should be done by mechanics lien lawyers who can anticipate likely defenses based on the unique characteristics of the project and property.

The Illinois Mechanics Lien Act Imposes Short Deadlines. COVID-19, and the closure of many Recorder of Deeds' Offices, makes it critical to act quickly to secure your lien rights.

The Illinois Mechanics Lien Act always imposes short deadlines. With COVID-19, and the closure of many Recorder of Deeds’ Offices, it is critical to act quickly to secure your lien rights.

Using Mechanics Liens to Get Paid

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!