You may not associate consulting a real estate lawyer with fall’s full arrival. Yet, if you either currently own a residential property or wish to buy into Vancouver’s or BC’s Lower Mainland, you may want legal counsel who specializes in real estate law. Fall is the time as a homeowner you may decide to renovate for greater comfort in your home as winter approaches. Or, you may opt to sell your residential property and buy a new home to suit your new real estate needs. Only you know if it’s time to renovate or to move? A real estate litigation specialist, however, can help you avoid certain pitfalls. In today’s post we discuss construction liens
This month is the beginning of renovation season! Contractors are hired to renovate, to fix or to upgrade. It might be a ground floor bathroom, front entry, kitchen or extra room as we move into that ‘nesting’ mode. Cooler weather and the anticipation of all the holidays ahead filling our home with company motivates us to build a better-quality experience for the inside months of the year.
Yet, as the project progresses, you notice a number of defects in the general contractor’s work. If there’s no attempt by the contractor to resolve the problems, you may find yourself in a real estate dispute. One of the first lines of response by a homeowner unhappy with work done or not completed is to withhold payment.
Contractors can demand payment from a homeowner either directly, or by filing a “construction lien.” Unlike average liens, construction liens can be registered on title without getting a court order from a judge.
Dealing with a construction lien against your real estate property
Check when you signed the contract with the contractor. If it was before July 1, 2018, the now outdated construction law applies. This means the lien should have been registered 45 days after the last date that the contractor worked or supplied materials to the property. The lawsuit should be filed in court 45 days after registering the lien on title.
The current act applies if the contract was signed after July 1, 2018, and in this one there are 60 days to register the lien and 90 days to start the lawsuit. If your contractor made a mistake in this timeline and as a homeowner you can ask the contractor to get the lien removed so that you both don’t need to go to court.
You will likely need to hire another contractor to complete your improvements.
More on construction lien timelines
Contractors and companies that have supplied materials for the project have two years to ask the court to schedule a trial. Homeowners may ask the court to dismiss the lawsuit and obtain an order to remove the lien if two years have passed since this has been done. A real estate lawyer would need to complete the paperwork in order to have the lien removed.
To keep in mind on construction liens
- There are specific timelines with hard stops and no leeway
- Construction laws are highly technical – seek advice
- Litigation can be unpredictable- a skilled team of legal advocates can assist in bringing about a fair and timely resolution to the real estate dispute at hand
If necessary, precise and effective litigation by an experienced real estate lawyer is advisable.