Senate Passes Ward Bill Shielding Property Owners from Unfair Liens

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Harrisburg – The state Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Kim Ward (R-39) to protect homeowners from unfair mechanics’ liens.

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. The measure will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

“Homeowners have faced this problem for years, but it became especially acute last year when several out-of-state roofing companies set up shop to replace homes damaged by a tornado in the 39th Senatorial District, and several property owners were victimized,” said Ward. “Senate passage of this legislation means we’re one step closer to preventing that from ever happening again.”

Following the 2011 tornado damage, some residents were adversely affected when a roofing company 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 to the out-of-state company in full, Ward said. 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.

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.

“I am grateful to my Senate colleagues for supporting my efforts to make sure that property owners who pay their construction bills aren’t penalized by the deeds of an unscrupulous contractor,” said Ward. “Most contractors perform their work in good faith. Senate Bill 145 is designed to protect homeowners from those who don’t.”


Tom Aikens
(724) 600-7002