Can contractor put a lien on my house if I don't pay?

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Posted by: from Gta
3/1/2016 at 12:18:58 PM

A couple days ago the owner of the contracting company came and asked his staff to pack up and leave the property. Now he sent the final bill and asked me to pay the bill. He is threatening if I don't pay him he is putting a lien on my house. Can he do that? And what I can do to recover the cost of finishing the project?

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Date/Time3/1/2016 at 2:20:25 PM

I don't think he can put a lien on your house. If you have a contract between you then you need to read it carefully. If there is no contract and you can't settle the disagreement in an amicable way then you should probably seek some legal advice so you know exactly where you stand.

Good luck.

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Date/Time3/1/2016 at 2:39:19 PM

Yes, he can in some ways depending on the contract between you two.

Also, no he cannot if he has not finish the work written in the contract.

The only way he can put a lien on your home is if he has finished his work and it meets what was written in the contract prior to signing. But if you the home owner just decideds not to pay because he has not finished base on something like the home owner being very picky with what materials or what the job looks like afterwards.

If you two cant come to an agreement then he has the right to leave the job site and file a suit. But if it's just the contractor wanting to leave the site and not finsish the work then this is unprofessional and yes you have the right not to pay and he cannot put lein on your home do not be afraid. Tell him you will see him or her in court.

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Sebastian from Direct Painting in Markham
Date/Time3/1/2016 at 2:45:12 PM

Yes, he can if it's been less than 45 days and has had materials delivered there. Try to work it out or contact a lawyer immediately.


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Al in Gta
Date/Time3/1/2016 at 3:00:45 PM

I have purchased all the final material including tile and grout. What is the next step after he put the lien on the house? How can I fight back to remove it?

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Date/Time3/1/2016 at 3:09:19 PM

It's very easy to put a lien on your house, contractor have 90 days after that to follow up with a court letters. He have 90 days since first day of the lien to sue you if he doesn't or misses 90 days you can remove lien by coming to land regestry office.

Lots of contractors don't even know their time frames and try to scare you with a lien.

If he goes to court then only court can remove lien, you're lucky if it's small claim court, doesn't take long. If the amount of money is over 50k then it will take a few years in a court and be prepared to pay for your lawyer.

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Al in Gta
Date/Time3/1/2016 at 3:21:15 PM

The amount is less that $3000 and maybe 3-4 days of job left to finish. I really don't know why he is doing this. Can I present my self in small claim court?

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Frank from DCL Group in Toronto
Date/Time3/1/2016 at 3:26:44 PM

If they have done new work valued at $ 1000.00 or more and within 44 days... the short answer is yes.

Then you have to hire a lawyer to bond off the lien or leave it there until your mortgage renewal comes up.. then your financial institution will force you to pay it out or bond it off.

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Date/Time3/1/2016 at 4:33:52 PM

I'm a contractor. I'm sure there is two sides on this story. But if the work isn't done, he can't invoice you.

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Date/Time3/1/2016 at 4:36:50 PM

Yes, if contractor done work in your house and he can proof that, he can put the lien to do that is 39 days after that he can't. Further more he got two mounts to perfect the lien. Your option if you don't want to pay him is to pay to the court double amount of lien, then lien gets removed from your property.


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Date/Time3/1/2016 at 4:58:50 PM

Yes you can represent yourself in a small claim court. And you can put lien amount as a secure deposit to the court so your lien will get removed and court will hold that amount till the end of the case, if you win you just get your money back.

It's a best thing to do in your case, but try to solve it with your contractor should be your priority.

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Date/Time3/1/2016 at 5:34:10 PM

Hi Al,

After looking at various replies best thing is to sit with contractor and see what he is willing to do? If you both can find a solution nothing like it.

Think what went wrong? How to correct it from your side? You start with +Ve approach. If that does not work then give him Text message, email/s and finally give him a notice to come and finish his work as per contract in given time frame that way you are going by rules.

Majority of the time contractors are very nice and would come to some terms.

Putting a lien, going to court is just a waste of time for both the parties and courts are for those who can not figure out them selves what is the best way to do and get business done.

Be +Ve and both parties let go some thing there is always a good solution and that's a WIN - WIN situation.

Hope that helps.

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Paul from iRenoHomes in Mississauga
Date/Time3/1/2016 at 7:42:43 PM

If you hired this contractor from a referral. So there must've been some trust from the start. Now he told his guys to stop work, you have to ask yourself. (If I have done something wrong)

A good contractor doesn't abandon a job if everything is running smoothly.

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Date/Time3/1/2016 at 10:07:16 PM

What happens is this: a contractor takes a job to improve a property and makes a contract with the property owner. The contractor then performs the work. But the property owner either pays the contractor a fraction of the agreed upon price or does not pay at all. At this point, the contractor can file a Mechanic's Lien.

Generally, this means that the contractor files in the county in which the work took place. Attached to the filing is a bill for the work completed. At this point the lien will be 'answered' and a court date may be set. If the court affirms the lien, the contractor now has a lien on the property, effectively giving he or she the right to take possession of the improved property if the debt isn't paid within a certain time frame.

The best way is to solve this problem without going through all of these hassles.

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Date/Time3/2/2016 at 5:39:17 PM

Hi Al,

There have been a lot of opinions given here and the fact is there are always three sides to every story...yours, their's, and the truth.

To answer your question though none of that matters.

If you hired a contractor to do work on your house and he started, he has the ability to file a lien against your property. The fact is if he/she is invoicing for work they have not yet done, that is a separate issue that unfortunately will not come up until you are in court. The lien can be filed regardless.

Under the Ontario Lien Act, the lien must be registered within 45 days of the Contractor (or any of their Sub-Contractors) performing work under the contract (showing up and taking tools does not count).

Once the lien has been registered against your property they must perfect the lien by commencing an action in Superior Court within the next 45 days from the date of lien registration.

If they fail to commence the suit in Superior Court (please note that all lien actions are heard in Superior Court regardless of their value, not Small Claims Court) then the lien expires (but can still cause you problems).

Once the action is initiated the courts get involved. If the Contractor made a frivolous claim (i.e. registered the lien for an invoice for work not yet done, etc.) the Contractor can be penalized and the lien can be dismissed.

The advice given by some of the previous posters about discussing the matter with the Contractor is valid. Try to resolve the issue between your two parties first as the lien route can get messy.

Having said that, most Contractors really have no idea of the law regarding liens and threaten them to be vindictive or stress a point. If that is uncovered in court, the Contractor will face penalties. However, if the Contractor was retained to perform work by you and you are not paying and discussions between the two of you have not resolved the issue, he/she are completely within their rights to pursue the lien option.

To answer your other question, Yes you can represent yourself in either Small Claims court or Superior Court but I do not recommend it if you are not familiar with court procedure and the relevant laws pertaining to construction contract disputes.

Best of luck,

Jason Irving

Cedarfalls Building Consultants Limited

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Al in Gta
Date/Time3/4/2016 at 11:46:34 AM

I got angry at the contractor, because he left us in mess and looked at the final bill on my mobile and thought he is asking for full contract balance and extras. In fact, he pretend that he left some money to complete the job, but add some extras to cover the full balance. Now I am getting couple quotes to see how much it is going to cost me to finish the job. If all the lien claims goes to superior court it is very expensive process.

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