Mechanics liens in the construction industry are commonplace. In short, they are the legal mechanism for subcontractors, suppliers, and other people and companies involved in a construction project to protect their right to get paid for work performed or materials supplied. In the most simple terms, it’s the way we get paid if there is a dispute.
Every state has distinct and special rules for the issuance of a mechanics lien and in this regard, Illinois is no different. Even though the Illinois mechanics lien has the same law across the state, you may want to check with the local Recorder of Deeds. As some offices have differing fees and requirements.
Know the Illinois Deadlines
If you have not been paid for work performed or materials supplied, the first thing you must do is to deliver a Notice of Intent. In Illinois, the deadline to deliver the notice is 90 days from the last day you provided labor or supplies to the project. This is not a legal filing, but rather a notice to the project that you have not been paid. It should be sent to the owner, general contractor, and any mortgage lenders via certified mail with return receipt requested, for evidentiary purposes. If you miss the 90-day deadline, your right to file a mechanic’s lien may be affected.
Notice of Intent Overview in the State of Illinois
Many states have a template for this notice of intent, but Illinois does not. Nonetheless, the notice must include basic information about the project and the debt you are owed, such as the address, the work you performed, materials used, contact information, and general accounting of the monies you are owed. In essence, this information can be used by the owner or general contractor to resolve any payment issues, and sometimes, the notice itself serves to actually notify the owner or general contractor that there actually is an issue. Sometimes, this notice helps to resolve the problem.
The Time Comes To File your Illinois Mechanics Lien
If that doesn’t happen, your next step is to file your Illinois Mechanic’s Lien. Unlike the Notice of Intent, the lien has some specific requirements to be effective. While the Notice of Intent can typically be created and delivered without the assistance of a lawyer, the lien creates some additional challenges making a lawyer more useful. In Illinois, the lien must be verified by the subcontractor with an affidavit, and must include a statement detailing the contract, the balance due, and the legal description of the property that you are attaching the lien to.
Make It Official
When you have that information gathered and prepared in the Illinois mechanics lien form, you must file it at the office of the Recorder of Deeds in the county of the property’s location. By filing the lien, you are making your dispute official. But even though the lien is a valuable tool to force the owner or general contractor to pay you, they may still refuse. And under Illinois law, your mechanic’s lien has a lifespan of only 2 years. If you still haven’t been paid, you may need to follow other legal paths, such as through foreclosure. In any event, that 2-year deadline is important and should be tracked closely.
Getting paid can be easier with an experienced attorney
The further down the rabbit hole you go, the more likely it is that you’ll want an attorney to help you. The Notice of Intent is typical can be done without lawyers. Filing a lien as well, though some subcontractors or suppliers may prefer an attorney who has experience with cases similar to yours. An experienced attorney can help navigate on multiple levels, starting from elevating you from the technical bureaucracies and paperwork. An experienced local attorney can even help you avoid the whole situation altogether.