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Newsletter October 2006

Dear Karen,

As a community service, the Law Offices of Karen M. Riggio, LLC publishes a complimentary e-newsletter designed for business owners and independent contractors. Each month, we offer valuable tips and practical, real life answers to today’s common contract issues and collection problems. Feel free to e-mail us your suggestions for future articles.

Karen M. Riggio

Tip of the Month
Mechanics’ Lien Q&A

As the real estate market slows down, trade contractors in particular need to closely monitor their accounts receivable. A good business practice is to issue prompt invoices for “progress payments”. This procedure will help provide a more consistent cash flow as well as immediately uncover any homeowner disputes or “over-budget” issues. Advance warning offers you an opportunity to resolve disagreements before the project is completed.

However, for delinquent accounts over 60 days, you should consider placing a mechanics’ lien on the property. This month, I would like to answer some frequently asked questions:

1) What is a mechanics' lien? 

A mechanics' lien is a right given to contractors, subcontractors, licensed architects, engineers, and supply houses to secure payment for labor, material or services rendered to improve a property.

2) How is a mechanics' lien filed?

The right is enforced by recording a lien with the town recorder's office of the town where the land is situated and gives the lien claimant the right to foreclose and sell the property. In Connecticut, you must file a lien within 90 days from the date of final completion of the original contract.  In New York, the claimant must file within 120 days.

3)  What may be included in calculating the amount of the lien?

  • On-site services: the value of the service rendered, labor performed, or materials or equipment furnished or rented.
  • Professional services: the value of designs, plans, maps, specifications, drawings and surveys.

4) What does the Notice of Lien require?

  • Name of the owner
  • Name of the person or entity who hired the lien claimant
  • First and last day of work or when services were performed or when materials were furnished
  • Description of the property, sufficient for identification (Lot/Block)
  • Name and address of the lien claimant
  • Amount of the lien claim
  • A notarized signature of the lien claimant or claimant’s representative

Since a successful claimant may be entitled to be reimbursed for attorney fees and costs, it is wise to consult a knowledgeable construction attorney before payment issues become a problem and lien rights are lost. It is crucial, however, not to wait too long or your rights may expire.


Since 1983, Attorney Karen M. Riggio has helped thousands of clients create clear and concise written agreements and avoid potential business disputes. Her practice concentrates in business and commercial law, and provides experienced legal counsel in contracts, debt collection, dispute resolution, and real estate. For more information, call 203-968-8715 or visit www.kmriggio.com.

© 2006 Law Offices of Karen M. Riggio, LLC
Concentrating on Business and Commercial Law
Connecticut • New York