Construction Liens Law and Legal Definition

A lien is the right to retain the lawful possession of the property of another until the owner fulfills a legal duty to the person holding the property, such as the payment of lawful charges for work done on the property. A mortgage is a common lien. The right of lien generally arises by operation of law, but in some cases it is created by express contract. Liens that arise in construction situations include construction liens, contractor liens, mechanic liens, attorney liens, architect liens and other liens applicable in your state.

By virtue of express statutes in most states, mechanics and material men or persons who furnish materials for the erection of houses or other buildings, are entitled to a lien or preference in the payment of debts out of the houses and buildings so erected and to the land, to a greater or lessor extent, on which they are erected.

In some states, a claim must be filed in the office of the clerk of the court or a suit brought within a limited time. On the sale of the building these liens are to be paid pro rata. In some states no lien is created unless the work done or the goods furnished amount to a certain specified sum, while in others there is no limit to the amount. In general, none but the original contractors can claim under the law; however, sometimes sub-contractors have the same right.