mechanic's lien

A mechanic’s lien is a statutory lien secured by real or personal property for labor or materials used to improve, maintain, or repair property. The mechanic’s lien provides a security interest that can be enforced by the holder against the piece of property if the debt is not paid. The lien arises out of a statute as a remedy of law for enforcing payment, rather than from the contract between the laborer or supplier and the owner of the property. Importantly, a mechanic’s lien will run with the property and subsequent encumbrances are subordinate to the lien.

A mechanic’s lien can be known by many different names depending on the nature of the property or the services or goods provided including an artisan’s lien, a chattel lien, a construction lien, a garageman’s lien, a laborer’s lien, a supplier’s lien, a design professional’s lien, and a materialman’s lien.

New York Lien Law §3 defines a mechanic’s lien on real property as a “contractor, subcontractor, laborer, materialman, landscape gardener, nurseryman or person or corporation selling fruit or ornamental trees, roses, shrubbery, vines and small fruits, who performs labor or furnishes materials for the improvement of real property with the consent or at the request of the owner thereof, or of his agent, contractor or subcontractor, and any trust fund to which benefits and wage supplements are due or payable for the benefit of such laborers, shall have a lien for the principal and interest, of the value, or the agreed price, of such labor, including benefits and wage supplements due or payable for the benefit of any laborer, or materials upon the real property improved or to be improved and upon such improvement, from the time of filing a notice of such lien as prescribed in this chapter.”

[Last updated in July of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]