The New Jersey Construction Lien statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:44A-1 et seq., is a relatively new and distinctive statute which creates divergent procedures for filing the Construction Lien Claim on privately owned or leased property depending upon whether the project is commercial or "residential." The additional steps involved in filing a Construction Lien Claim on "residential" property require earlier usage on the part of the potential claimant, as well as additional expense.
There are many pitfalls to the use of the Construction Lien statute in New Jersey. The project owner has a defense of payment, and has no duty to make sure remote claimants are paid. The line between commercial and "residential" projects is not well defined, and can cause a lien to be invalidly filed. One of the statutory provisions provides for attorneys fees and costs in the case of an invalidly filed lien, which results in frequent challenges to the filing of the lien. Another provision establishes that the lien claim is subordinate to prior mortgages. Claimants with valid liens share pro-rata in the "lien fund," regardless of the timing of the filing of the lien.
Nonetheless, the Construction Lien statute, carefully utilized, remains a useful weapon in the credit and finance arsenal of the construction contractor and supplier. The attorneys of the Law Office of Bart J. Klein offer decades of experience in construction law and litigation. We guide construction industry claimants through their options with the goal of achieving the maximum available recovery.
Any general contractor, subcontractor, supplier of materials or equipment to a general contractor or subcontractor, as well as licensed professionals such as architects, engineers and surveyors and construction managers may file a lien. Thus an equipment lessor has the right to file a construction lien for the value of the rental equipment used on the construction site. A laborer does not have the right to file a construction lien.
A useful way to conceptualize is to recognize that there are three levels of claimants: those contracting with the owner, those contracting with the general contractor and those contracting with a subcontractor that has a subcontract with the general contractor.
The protections of the New Jersey Construction Lien statute may be rendered useless if the requirements of the statute are not followed. Our firm’s construction litigation attorneys know the nuances of the statute and regularly assist clients, both proactively and retroactively to protect their rights under the statute. We welcome you to contact us at (973) 763-6060, firstname.lastname@example.org, or by completing our online contact form.
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