The rules for filing a municipal mechanic's lien in New Jersey are different from the rules for filing a construction lien. With our decades of experience in construction law and litigation, the attorneys of the Law Office of Bart J. Klein help construction industry claimants navigate the law's complexities and deadlines with the goal of achieving the maximum available recovery.
By statute, a claimant not contracting directly with the general contractor must give notice within twenty (20) days of the first furnishing of labor or materials that it has so furnished labor or materials ("the Notice of Delivery"). The Notice of Delivery, along with the actual Notice of Municipal Mechanic's Lien Claim, is filed with the Clerk, Secretary or Business Administrator of the public agency. See N.J.S.A. 2A:44-128(b). A copy should be given to the general contractor.
Case law has clarified that joint check agreements with the general contractor do not elevate the relationship of a supplier to a subcontractor or a subsubcontractor to an entity contracting directly with the general contractor. SeeDial Block Co. v. Mastro Masonry Contractors, 374 N.J. Super 13, 24-25 (App. Div. 2004), cert. den. 183 N.J. 215 (2005). Thus the supplier to a subcontractor or more remote subcontractor must file a Notice of Delivery in addition to the Notice of Municipal Mechanic's Lien Claim, whereas a party contracting directly with the general contractor need only file the Notice of Municipal Mechanic's Lien Claim, which may be filed at a later time. See N.J.S.A. 2A:44-128(b).
General contractors will often argue that a remote supplier does not have a valid lien claim because it did not meet the twenty (20) day notice requirements of N.J.S.A. 2A:44-128. The general contractor may be mistaken in this assertion because N.J.S.A. 2A:44-128(b) does not automatically bar municipal liens if a Notice of Delivery is not filed within twenty (20) days of the furnishing of materials. N.J.S.A. 2A:44-128(b) expressly allows the filing of a notice of lien after the twenty (20) day period when there is money owed from the contractor to the subcontractor to whom the materials were provided. The statute states that
failure to provide this written notice as required within twenty (20) days of the first performance of ... delivery of ... materials to the subcontractor shall be a bar ... unless there is money owing from the contractor to the subcontractor ..." [N.J.S.A. 2A:44-128(b)(emphasis added)].
Given the limited and often unavailable nature of this exception, the potential claimant is well advised to provide the required notices as quickly as possible.
The protections of the municipal mechanic's 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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