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The Mechanics Lien - A Brief History


The mechanic’s lien and the right for ownership and payment are actually quite interesting, and the creation of these liens as we know them, today, lies right alongside the rich history of the founding of the United States of America.

However, the history of the mechanic’s lien comes even before the 18th century, reaching back in time all the way to the Roman Empire.

This article will explore the creation of the mechanic’s lien, the purpose of these documents, and how they came to be a staple in American legislation.

What is a Mechanic's Lien?

A mechanic’s lien is a document that ensures that contractors, subcontractors, or suppliers selected to do work on a property will be paid for services rendered.

If the client receives a quality final project yet refuses to pay, a contractor can sue on the ground of breach of contract. However, in the construction business, you can go one step further and file a lien against the property itself.

This means that the lien will appear on public records until it is paid. If a lien is on a property, it’s difficult to even sell until the lien is paid, giving power to the contractor.

Where Does the Mechanic’s Lien Come From?

England did not have any laws like the mechanic’s lien because the purpose and ownership of land functioned as a status symbol for the king more so than to individuals like it does in America and elsewhere. It was other European countries, like Spain and France, that held onto the idea of a mechanic’s lien developed by the Roman Empire.

Tomas Jefferson and the Introduction of Mechanic’s Liens to America

Tomas Jefferson, familiar with the practices of other countries when it came to builders’ laws, understood the value of the lien and made it a founding principle of the new country.

Without the mechanic’s lien, the country may not have grown so rapidly or successfully, as builders would have had no way to profit off of completed properties and would not have had the security necessary to move forward with projects in this uncertain time.

Fun fact! If you ever wondered why it was called a mechanic’s liens, here’s why! At the time, there were few machines, but the term mechanic still existed.

A mechanic was anyone who worked with their hands, including craftsmen, builders, and tradespeople. Thus, a rule for these builders was called a “Mechanic’s Lien.”

Knowing the History

Knowing the history around an important piece of legislation gives us the context for its existence. It also helps us understand the value of these rules over time. The mechanic’s lien has been giving power to craftsmen for thousands of years. Even today, we still use it to ensure payment is received for work completed.

If you need to file a mechanic’s lien against a client, it’s in your right as a construction company to do so if they don’t pay you. If you need help filing a lien or with other kinds of notary paperwork, consider how Nationwide Notice can help you streamline theseprocesses. We have a team of dedicated lien exports ready to help you through the entire lien process. We prioritize helping construction companies secure their payments, as a full and self-service notice and lien company. We assist with lien laws and related documents to assist construction companies. You can learn more about what we do here to see how we can help.



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