Can the Supplier lien the Owner's property when the Contractor won't pay the bill?
We are a Supplier on a new residential construction project. The Owner paid the Contractor in full but the Contractor didn't pay us.
1. Can we place a lien on the property?
2. Is there anything we should watch out for?
1. As a supplier -- if you have fully complied with all requisite and/or applicable lien notices and deadlines under Wis. Stat. Chapter 779, you will have the right to file a lien on the property if the contractor has not paid you for the supplies, regardless of whether the owner has paid the contractor for these supplies. I strongly suggest that you download a copy of Wis. Stat. Chapter 779 and read it through until you know it inside and out.
2. Things to watch out for: (i) Many times once the owner receives your notice of intent to file a lien, the owner will contact the contractor and the contractor will resolve the payment issue with you as the supplier. (ii) If any of your materials were delayed or defective in any way, the contractor may dispute your lien, and you may have an expensive legal battle on your hands trying to prove that your materials were delivered in a timely fashion and were non-defective. (iii) if the owner provides you with a lien waiver from the contractor claiming that you were paid, when in fact you were not, there may be an issue of fraud or theft by contractor, wherein the contractor received payment for the supplies, and did not pay the supplier. In any of these instances, you want to make sure and consult with a lawyer to make sure that your rights are protected, and to make sure that you are not exposing yourself to greater liability through a misunderstanding of the lien law process.
Thank you to Chad Koplien for the above answer. Chad is a Wisconsin construction litigation attorney with Stafford Rosenbaum LLC, a legal firm located in Madison Wisconsin and Brookfield Wisconsin.
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The information on these pages provides legal information about Wisconsin statutes designed to help contractors acquire general background information on construction liens in Wisconsin. It is important to note that legal information is not the same as legal advice. Legal advice is the application of the specific applicable laws to a contractor's specific fact scenario. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, you must retain a lawyer, and enter into an attorney-client relationship if you want to obtain professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.
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