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Massachusetts Law About Mechanics' Liens

Massachusetts Laws

MGL c.254 Liens on Buildings and Land

Federal Law

12 USC 1701j-3 Real Property Loans, Due-on-Sale Clauses, Liens Subordinate to Security Interests

12 USC 2615 Contracts and Liens; Validity


Mechanics' Liens Forms

Selected Case Law

Blount Bros. Corp. v. Mondev Mass., Inc., 22 Mass. App. Ct. 96 (1986), affirmed, Blount Bros. Corp. v. Lafayette Place Assoc., 399 Mass. 632 (1987). If the date in notices does not correspond to the date in a contract (or informal extensions of a contract), no lien attaches.

East Coast Steel Erectors v. Ciolfi, 417 Mass. 602 (1994). A valid lien was established by a notice of contract in which the contractor specified an estimated completion date, none being set forth in the contract, to which the owner did not object within five days of notice.

J & W Wall Systems, Inc., v. Shawmut First Bank & Trust Company, 413 Mass. 42 (1992). A bank that took a deed in lieu of foreclosure was held to be a "purchaser" under M.G.L. 254 sec. 7, entitled to priority over a notice of lien recorded shortly after the deed.

Mammoet USA, Inc. v. Entergy Nuclear Generation Co., 64 Mass.App.Ct. 37 (2005). Subcontractor's transportation and delivery charges for shipment of large equipment are not subject to contractor's lien as the equipment did not constitute an "improvement of real property".

National Lumber Co. v. LeFrancois Construction Corp., 430 Mass. 663 (2000). "Where an action has been commenced before the statute of limitations has run, a plaintiff may be allowed to substitute one defendant for another after the statute of limitations has run against the proposed substitute defendant."

National Lumber Co. v. United Casualty and Surety Insurance Company, Inc., et al., 440 Mass. 723, 802 N.E.2d 82 (2004). A mechanic's lien recorded pursuant to G. L. c. 254, ยง 4, does not include contractual interest and attorney's fees incurred in enforcing the lien.

Tremont Tower Condominium LLC v. George B.H. Macomber Co., 436 Mass. 677 (2002). Clarifies when the right to a mechanics' lien arises, and concludes "the voluntary dissolution of a mechanic's lien under G. L. c. 254, 10, does not prevent a contractor's later recording of another timely notice of contract."

Volpe Construction Co. v. First National Bank of Boston, 30 Mass. App. Ct. 249 (1991). Lien is automatically dissolved if action to enforce is not begun within required period from filing of statement.

Waverly Coop. Bank v. Haner, 273 Mass. 477 (1930). Liens do not have a priority over a mortgage unless the work was actually begun prior to the recording of the mortgage.

Other Web Sources

Massachusetts Mechanic's Lien Law Summary of Requirements, Worcester Registry of Deeds. Handy chart that outlines requirements by party.

Mechanic's Lien Law: More Clarity from the Supreme Judicial Court, Mass. Law Review, v.88, no. 2, 2003. Summarizes the current state of the mechanics lien law, and provides a "road map for the life cycle of a mechanic's lien" based on the decision in Tremont Tower.

The New Massachusetts Mechanics' Lien Law, Sauer, Jonathan P. "In order to understand the changes in the lien law, it is necessary to recite the basic tenets of the existing law. Thereafter, we will extensively comment on the changes brought about by the new lien law and will suggest forms for complying with the same." Provides a good outline of how the law works, and the forms that need to be filed.

What You Should Know About Mechanic's Lien Statutes, Cohen, Alan M. Overview of mechanic's lien law.

Print Sources

Handbook of Standards and Forms. Real Estate Bar Association for Massachusetts, 2004. Standards 62, 63, 64.

Lien Law and Prompt Pay Update, MCLE, 2011.

Massachusetts Construction Law: Mechanics Liens, Claims and Disputes, Lorman, 2009.

Massachusetts Conveyancers' Handbook with Forms, by Edward C. Mendler. 4th ed. West Group, 2008 (with supplement). Sec. 6:22 and 9:8.

Massachusetts Mechanics' Lien and Bond law. Lorman Educational Services, 2004.

Massachusetts Practice Series:

Massachusetts Real Estate Liens. MCLE, loose-leaf. Chapter 3.

A Practical Guide to Mechanics Liens [CD sound recording]. MCLE, 2008.

Using Mechanics Liens and Bond Claims to Get Your Money, NBI, 2006.