Lien On Home

Question Icon
Posted by: from Toronto
6/15/2013 at 3:05:35 PM

Can a workman put a lien on your property after a verbal agreement?

We hired a worker to do a job on the exterior of our home verbally but he always made excuses why he couldn't do the job. Three weeks later he still hadn't started. Finally he promised to do it on a day this week but did not show up or call (weather was beautiful too so not that). When I called him asking him to see if he was still coming he didn't answer my calls. When he finally did he was very rude. He told me I should have known he wasn't coming because it had rained the night before (but it was sunny and warm and everything was dry that day) and he said he didn't have to call to let me know and he talked down to me.

So my husband and I decided we wanted to do 3/4 of the job ourselves as by this time it had been a month since we hired him to do it. And we were going to use someone else for the harder parts. Well we let this worker know and he said that he was still doing the job and that if we took him off he would put a lien on the house as we had a verbal agreement. But he never did any work. He said he was suing us too? I really don't want to work with this creepy nasty man.

Can he really do this? He did help us get a discount on materials but it was really not one when we compared prices and we haven't used them yet. So my husband returned to the store and asked them to take off the discount so we can say they are fully ours. As we payed for them and took them home all along.

And can we protect ourselves from this lien? He was also extremely threatening and called us losers.


User Icon
Date/Time6/15/2013 at 4:21:39 PM

He can only put a lien if work is done or material is supplied and payment is not made for either the services or material. Reading above neither of these have happened.

User Icon
Sandi in Toronto
Date/Time6/15/2013 at 4:25:44 PM

Thank goodness. Can he lie and say he did work though? My husband wanted to start painting but I am afraid then that he won't be able to prove this guy hasn't done anything yet. Or could he lie and say he did some random job? This guy is not happy with us.

User Icon
Date/Time6/15/2013 at 4:39:58 PM

First of all lien can be executed only if physical work was done period! If this fellow will put a lien without doing any job you can discharge it yourself or with help of lawyer and sue this person for incurring costs. Second it is wise to record telephone conversations it might help.

In my experience in construction industry people are always threatening but will not follow up. In my opinion you should not keep phoning this person at all and if he does tell him that you will sue him if he make false claim. Lien is only good if; work was performed on property and it is registered with Land Title office in New Westminster within 30 days from last working day, not hour. Lien requires property search in Land Title office and property search in Government Agent (PID, Legal description Name of Owners Etc.) Most people do it with law firm but it can be done without lawyer. There are certain costs involved.

You can fire that person at once without consequences and sleep good. He has no basis to file for lien. What he can do is sue you for breach of contract but as he did not fulfill his promises it is costly and hard to prove in Canadian Courts. No justice will believe his story. Keep file and record all dates and phone conversations it can be useful.

Kind regards


President P.G.Ceramic Tile

User Icon
Sandi in Toronto
Date/Time6/15/2013 at 5:00:17 PM

Thank you so much!!

He did say he was going to sue us too. It has been so stressful. And yes we only spoke to him that one time and will avoid all calls but he's threatened to show up this week to do the job. What should we do if that happens? Call the police? I hate to get people in trouble so hopefully it's just talk. I am just happy we chose to pick up supplies ourselves rather then letting him get them as he wanted originally.

Thanks so much for the advice! It's putting our minds at rest this weekend.

User Icon
Date/Time6/15/2013 at 5:58:12 PM

Hi Sandi,

He can put a lien on your house for unpaid amounts that you owe him. He must follow up with a lawsuit within 45 days or the lien will desolve itself. He has to prove that you did not pay him, and you have to defend yourself. If it was all verbal he can not prove anything then you win. When you get the court papers you can counter him with your own claim, then he will have to defend it.

All this will take lots of time and money, so unless it's a big amount I don't think he will go for it. In any case wright to him tomorrow that you canceling with him any verbal agreement because of his delay tactics and this is why you canceling the contract.

Hope this will help.


Harry C.

User Icon
Date/Time6/15/2013 at 6:03:45 PM

Never heard something so ridiculous as this. Putting a lien on a property where no work has been done. Call the police to get him off your back.

User Icon
Date/Time6/15/2013 at 7:00:17 PM

No, he cant, but u guys can sue him for personel stress and delaying your job. I would report him and charge him with harassment.

You can not put a lien on any property without services rendered. Second if he has done service on your property he has max of 45 days to put a valid lien. And only put the amount owed. Second if he has put a lien then you provide him with letter to enforce the lien and register it in supreme court. He will go away. Also let him know that there is a heavy penalty for malishus act.


User Icon
Mark from CMJ Renovations in Oakville
Date/Time6/15/2013 at 8:47:31 PM

Hi Sandi

As all the others have said before me, this guy has no grounds and no case. Put it out of your mind tell him you have sought advise and if he continues he is the one that will be in court.

Also if he is a member of Handy Canadian please leave a review so other customers will be aware of this contractor.

The next time he calls the first thing you tell him you are recording the conversation for legal purposes he will probably hang up.

User Icon
Sandi in Toronto
Date/Time6/15/2013 at 10:58:41 PM

Thank you so so much everyone. I really appreciate the advice. I have never experienced anything like this before. We were nothing but polite to him about it too. I thought maybe I hadn't even heard right when he told me.

I will follow all this advice. And thanks for easing our minds.

User Icon
Victor from B & L Services in St Albert
Date/Time6/16/2013 at 10:09:52 AM

If he has not done any work, he cannot do anything legally. If you paid for the material (even if he provided a discount) he cannot do anything legally.

Tell this guy not to bother coming back to your job and call the Better Business Bureau and report this guy. Nobody needes guys like that out there

User Icon
Sandi in Toronto
Date/Time6/16/2013 at 11:41:57 AM

Thanks. No he didn't do anything, we just met him once for about 15 minutes when he came to look at the job. That was it. Now he claims he was coming to do the job this week (a month after we hired him) and previous times he told us he was coming he just didn't call or show up. Most of the time I understood why due to weather (although some days that he said it was too hot I'm a bit suspicious of now) but two times at least there was no explanation. When I spoke to him on the day he was to show up around lunch asking if he was still coming he said he could not send men for half a day to do work ( but we'd been expecting him that morning and it was a gorgeous not too hot or too cool sunny day) and three days later it was due to rain. (and the next day was supposed to be beautiful too, sunny and cooler). I then said could they just come for 1/2 a day that day and start on the job since it had been weeks and leave the rest until after the rainny day if they don't finish and he said " You can't expect my men to work only part of a day. And it's not fair that men should start a job and not get paid because it wasn't finished yet and that he would tell me when it's a good time. That he knows best and I should just wait for him to tell me when it's a good time. " No mention of which days the following week he could come . I just found that odd. Now he says he is going to show up this week and start whether we want him to or not. I really don't like confrontation so don't know what I'll do if he does...

User Icon
Date/Time6/16/2013 at 2:09:04 PM

Hi sandi,

If he is a BBB accredited memberall you have to do is register your concerns with the local office. No more problems. Always use Contractors who are accredited BBB members, otherwise you're leaving yourself in a high risk position. Its a hard way to learn that you need to begin with trust.

Good luck in your future projects.

User Icon
Sandi in Toronto
Date/Time6/26/2013 at 4:07:00 PM

He is still harassing us two weeks later. We already felt like he was trying to trap us with a phone call last week, trying to get us to say we just fired him rather then when we did. We sent a text telling him for the third time that he did no work for us and we don't have to pay him if he did no work. Then he shows up at our door and hands me an invoice saying we owe him the $600 money for the job with a "you better pay it" growl.

I never knew that if I hire someone and he takes too long to start a job and is rude to me that I can be sued if I decide to let him go? This is taking up so much time and since we've had the job done (had it done this past week) we don't want to have to pay twice.

Any advice?

Search the TrustedPros directory and discover the best contractors in your area.

Find your home service pro
Great renovations start with a great contractor.

Since 2004, TrustedPros has been helping homeowners find the right contractor for their home improvements and repairs.

Post Your Project

Within hours you'll be comparing offers from top-rated professionals. It's free to post and you're under no obligation to hire.

Trustedpros Inc. does not warrant the accuracy, completeness, safety, legality or usefulness of any Content, or Whether Content is Current and up-to-date, and TrustedPros Inc. Shall have no liability whatsoever with respect to your use or reliance upon any content or for content being removed or otherwise ceasing to be available. Please refer to the terms and conditions of use of this websites for more details.

Get Free Estimates

Post your project and compare offers from top-rated pros.