Category: Construction Liens

Contractor’s Violation of Pennsylvania’s HICPA Registration Requirement Does Not Bar Quantum Meruit or Mechanics Lien Claims

The Pennsylvania Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act, 73 P.S. § 517.1, et. seq. (“HICPA”), became effective on July 1, 2009. The HICPA is designed to protect purchasers of home improvement services from contractors engaging in fraudulent business practices. It requires contractors who perform more than $5,000 of work per year, and whose company is worth less than $50,000,000, to register with the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General (“OAG”), and comply with HICPA’s substantive requirements. The HICPA requires contractors to enter into written contracts for performance of improvements, specifies provisions which must be included in the written contract (§ 517.7(a)), and identifies other provisions the inclusion of which makes the contract voidable by the owner (§ 517.7(e)). Finally, certain acts on the part of contractors, including failure to register with the OAG (id. § 517.9) are prohibited by the HICPA, which sets forth criminal penalties for fraud (§ 517.8). Significantly, a violation of the Act is also deemed to be a violation of the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, 73 P.S. § 201-1 et. seq.

Performance of Corrective Work Does Not Extend the Deadline to File Mechanics’ Lien Claims in Pennsylvania

Mechanics’ liens are powerful remedies for contractors involved in payment disputes with owners of construction projects in Pennsylvania, but the six month deadline under the Mechanics’ Lien Law is strictly construed and contractors who delay filing them may lose their rights. In Neelu Enterprises, Inc. v. Agarwal, the Pennsylvania Superior Court considered the deadline for a contractor to file lien claims “within six months after the completion of his work” set forth in Section 502 of the Pennsylvania’s Mechanics’ Lien Law. Specifically, the two issues in the case were whether the deadline begins to run after a contractor is terminated and whether the deadline can be extended by the subsequent performance of corrective or remedial work.

Defective Lien Notices Can Be Amended Under New York’s Lien Law if Defects Are Not Substantial

New York’s mechanic’s lien law sets forth seven items that must be included in a claimant’s notice of lien. See New York Lien Law § 9. While the statute states that the lien notice “shall” include each of the seven items, a recent New York Supreme Court decision demonstrates that failure to include one or more of these seven items can have varying consequences depending upon whether the omission is considered a substantial or a technical defect. See Avon Contractors v. D.C.M. of New York, LLC, et al. In Avon, plaintiff-general contractor D.C.M. of New York, LLC (“DCM”) moved to discharge a mechanic’s lien filed by subcontractor J.E. Berkowitz, L.P. (“JEB”), claiming that the notice of lien violated subdivisions 1 and 1-a of New York Lien Law Section 9 (which provides that a lien notice must include “1. The name and residence of the lienor; and if the lienor is a partnership or corporation, the business address of such firm, or corporation, the names of partners and principal place of business, and if a foreign corporation, its principal place of business within the state; [and] 1-a. The name and address of the lienor’s attorney, if any”). Specifically, DCM claimed JEB’s lien should be discharged because the lien notice was defective because it listed a P.O. Box...

Caveat Venditor (Supplier Beware): The Importance of Accurate Accounting When Providing Materials to Contractors Working on Multiple Projects

A recent New Jersey Appellate Division case imposes a significant burden on lien-claimant material suppliers that supply materials to contractors on multiple construction projects. As discussed in the February 13, 2013, article “A Duty to Inquire Under Lien Law,” New Jersey Law Journal, Vol. 211 – No. 6, the court in L&W Supply Corp. v. DeSilva, addressed what is necessary for a material supplier to satisfy its obligation to apply payments on the account from which the payment obligation arises in order to preserve its construction lien rights, if any.