Recognizing that in this day and age everyone is adept at using the internet (including my mother on Facebook), a pending house bill would move the world of mechanics’ liens into the digital age and require contractors to preserve their claims prior to beginning work by filing a notice that the contractor will provide services or materials within 20 days of starting the work.
House Bill 473 of 2013 (HB 473), which is currently pending in the state legislature, would create an online State Construction Notices Directory effective July 1, 2015. What the online directory would do is allow a homeowner to register his property and project online prior to the commencement of construction and post a notice at the property informing contractors that the project is registered online. Contractors then have an affirmative duty to monitor the website for appropriate notices of commencement and file a notice of furnishing of labor, services and/or materials within 20 days after first performing work or services or furnishing materials in connection with improvement of the property. The notice the contractor must file can be served in a variety of ways, such as personal service, certified mail or for the computer savvy, on the website. A prerequisite to a contractor’s ability to file a mechanics’ lien is satisfying this requirement of properly serving a notice of furnishing labor, services and/or materials.
HB 473 gives some indication of how the website will function. It requires information to be categorized, so presumably searchable, by county, property owner’s name, property address or general contractor’s name. The Department of Labor and Industry is tasked with contracting with a third party administrator to service the website.
A public hearing was held on April 11, 2013. We’ll continue to monitor the progress of this bill and post updates.
Derek Dissinger is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Duquesne University and practices in a variety of areas.