Harrisburg – Legislation sponsored by Sen. Kim Ward (R-39) to protect homeowners from unfair mechanics’ liens was unanimously approved by the Senate Labor and Industry Committee today.
Senate Bill 145 eliminates mechanics’ lien rights for subcontractors who performed work on residential property, if the property owner has already paid the prime contractor in full.
Long a problem for homeowners, it became especially acute last year when several out-of-state roofing companies set up shop to replace tornado damaged homes in the 39th Senatorial District, the senator said. One company completed several jobs for residents and failed to pay its roofing supplier. In turn, the roofing supplier exercised its right to file mechanics’ liens against the property owners even though the property owners had already paid the contract price in full.
“Even with proper documentation showing they paid the primary contractor, the subcontractor still filed the lien in accordance with existing Pennsylvania law. When the main contractor left town and disconnected their contact sources, they left these residents to fight the subcontractor on their own,” said Ward. “This is unacceptable and unfair to those homeowners, who now have to pay twice because a contractor has skipped out on the job. This legislation will protect homeowners from that nightmare.”
Under Senator Ward’s bill, if a subcontractor files a lien, the homeowner or tenant can file a petition or motion with the court to throw it out if the homeowner or tenant has paid the full contract price to the contractor. When the homeowner or tenant has only paid part of the contract to the contractor, the bill directs the court to reduce the amount of lien to the amount still owed on the contract.
The senator introduced similar legislation in the previous legislative session. Senate Bill 145 was sent to the full Senate for consideration.
“The vast majority of contractors perform their work in good faith, but those who don’t cause plenty of expense and stress for families,” said Ward. “By changing current law we can make sure that consumers who pay their bills aren’t penalized by the deeds of an unscrupulous contractor.”