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What Is a Construction Lien?  

Thomas McMurray, P.C. June 12, 2024

Gavel with project blueprint and construction safety hatIn the construction industry, getting paid for your work is critical. One of the most effective tools to protect your right to payment is a construction lien. If you're a construction professional in Texas, understanding how these liens work and how to utilize them can make a significant difference to your business. 

A construction lien, also known as a mechanic's lien, is a legal claim against a property by a contractor, subcontractor, or supplier who has not been paid for their labor or materials. 

They serve as a powerful tool in the construction industry to secure payment for everyone involved in a project. These liens can prevent property owners from selling or refinancing the property until the debt is resolved. In essence, they offer a layer of protection against non-payment, making them an essential part of any construction professional’s toolkit. 

Texas-Specific Construction Liens

In Texas, construction liens are governed by a specific set of laws designed to balance the interests of property owners, contractors, and suppliers. The Texas Property Code outlines the requirements and procedures for filing and enforcing these liens. 

Key points to remember about Texas construction lien laws include: 

  • Notice Requirements: In Texas, you must provide preliminary notice to the property owner and general contractor within specific time frames to preserve your right to file a lien. 

  • Filing Deadlines: For residential projects, the lien must be filed by the 15th day of the third month after the work was completed. For commercial projects, it's the 15th day of the fourth month after completion. 

  • Lien Affidavit: The lien affidavit must be filed with the county clerk in the county where the property is located, and it must include detailed information about the claim. 

Understanding these specific regulations can help ensure your lien is valid and enforceable. 

Who Can File a Construction Lien?

In Texas, several parties involved in a construction project have the right to file a lien: 

  • General Contractors: Those who have a direct contract with the property owner. 

  • Subcontractors and Suppliers: Those who provide labor or materials but do not have a direct contract with the owner. 

  • Design Professionals: Architects, engineers, and surveyors who provide professional services for the project. 

The process involves sending a notice of intent to file a lien, followed by filing a lien affidavit with the county clerk. Following each step meticulously helps protect your claim and achieve the best possible outcome. 

Steps to Enforce a Construction Lien

Enforcing a construction lien in Texas involves several steps: 

1. Send Preliminary Notices 

Make sure you send the required notices within the specified time frames to preserve your right to file a lien. 

2. File the Lien Affidavit 

Complete and file the lien affidavit with the county clerk in the county where the property is located. Include detailed information about the debt, the work performed, and the property. 

3. Notify the Property Owner 

After filing, you must notify the property owner and other relevant parties about the lien. 

4. Wait for Payment or Take Legal Action 

If the lien does not result in payment, you may need to file a lawsuit to enforce the lien. This must be done within two years from the filing date of the lien affidavit. 

Following these steps ensures that your lien is properly filed and enforceable, giving you the best chance to secure payment for your work. 

The Value of Strong Legal Representation in Construction Liens

The process involved with filing and enforcing construction liens can be challenging, underscoring the need for reliable and aggressive legal representation. At Thomas McMurray, P.C., I assist construction professionals in Dallas, Fort Worth, McKinney, and Denton with all aspects of lien filing and enforcement. Some key traits to look for when you engage an attorney for your construction lien case include:  

  • Customized legal strategies: I pride myself on thinking outside the box to create tailored strategies for each client's unique situation. Whether you're dealing with a non-paying client or need guidance on the lien process, I'm here to help. 

  • Candid and professional guidance: My commitment to candidness means I'll always provide you with a realistic assessment of your case and potential outcomes. I believe in maintaining absolute professionalism, ensuring you understand every step of the process. 

  • Aggressive representation: When it comes to enforcing your rights, I approach each case with determination and thoroughness. I'll analyze every detail to achieve the best possible outcome for you. 

Construction Lien FAQ

What happens if the owner pays the contractor after a lien is filed?

If the property owner pays the contractor after a lien is filed, the lien should be released. The contractor must file a release of lien to formally remove the lien from the property records. Failure to do so could lead to legal complications for both parties. 

Can a contractor foreclose on a lien, and what are the consequences?

Yes, a contractor can foreclose on a lien if the debt remains unpaid. Foreclosure involves selling the property at a public auction to satisfy the unpaid debt. This process is complex and typically requires legal proceedings. 

By understanding these key aspects of construction liens in Texas, clients can protect their rights and meet their obligations more effectively. 

Thomas McMurray: Your Ally in Construction Liens

Understanding construction liens can make a significant difference in protecting your rights in the construction industry. By knowing who can file a lien, the steps to enforce it, and common misconceptions, you can better safeguard your business interests. 

If you need assistance with construction liens or any other real estate matters, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m here to help you handle these challenges and get the compensation you deserve. 

Ready to protect your rights? Contact Thomas McMurray, P.C. today to get started.