Anyone can file a mechanic’s lien by filling out a form and delivering it to the clerk of court’s office. The clerk of court employees who process liens are required to record all liens presented to them, without making any decision about whether the lien is valid, or whether the construction work was done properly. In fact, someone could theoretically file a mechanic’s lien against your property without having any connection to it whatsoever.
In recognition of this problem, each state has a procedure for property owners, prime contractors, lenders or other interested parties to challenge the validity of a mechanic’s lien. If an improper lien is filed, the law provides a way to have it removed from the public records.
Lien laws are technical and complex, and there are a number of reasons why a mechanic’s lien may be invalid. In fact, a large percentage of liens contain at least one error that could invalidate the entire instrument. If you think a lien filed against your property or project is illegal or invalid, you have rights to dispute that lien. You should first send a notice to the party who filed the lien demanding that it be removed, and if that fails, you then must file suit to force the lien’s removal.
In Louisiana, the proceeding to challenge a lien is designed to be simple and fast. Unlike a normal litigation situation, which could last for years before a trial date is set, lien dispute proceedings are typically tried within 20-45 days. This is great news for the property owner or contractor who believes an invalid lien has been filed against him, since he won’t have to wait long for his day in court.
But, just because the proceeding is generally fast, that does not mean it is easy. A suit to remove a lien still requires you to put on evidence of your position, make legal arguments, file documents with the court, and convince the Judge that the lien is, in fact, invalid. In addition, you will often face a vigorous opposition, as the party who filed the lien is fighting to keep its lien in the public record.
Smiley Law Firm can represent you in these lien challenge proceedings for a reasonable flat fee. The fee includes litigating your lien challenge from start to finish – including advice to you along the way, filing the petition, filing any necessary memoranda, and appearing in court on your behalf to argue the case.