Maine Mechanic’s Lien & Bond Claim Rights

Here’s What You Should Know about Maine Mechanic’s Lien & Bond Claim Rights

Maine, the most northeastern state in the U.S., famous for lobsters, very chilly winters, and the backdrop for many of the terrifying novels by Stephen King. What’s scarier than a Stephen King novel? Furnishing to a construction project and not getting paid!

In a Time-Crunch?

Here’s an at-a-glance review of mechanic’s lien & bond claim deadlines in Maine:

For those with a few minutes to spare, today’s post is all about Maine, so sit back & relax, because I have a little family story to share too!

The Summer of Camping

(Not interested in my story? Skip to the next section “Maine Mechanic’s Liens”)

One summer, when I was in my early teens, my parents took my sister and me on a 3-week camping trip up through New England.

Three weeks of tent camping? I was about to spend 3 weeks in a horrifying Stephen King novel!

As a teenager I was fully committed to blow drying my hair and wearing the pinkest of lip glosses; I was less than thrilled at the prospect of sleeping in a tent in the foggy cold of Maine. Tents, port-a-potties, and bugs aside, I do distinctly remember how beautiful the sunrise was in the wee hours of the morning as we drove to the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park.

My parents carted us through the various national & state parks, stopped for shopping at L.L. Bean, explained the importance of the geographic landscape of Camden, and asked a local resident to teach us the proper way to say Bar Harbor.

Speaking of Bar Harbor, I was reviewing MaineDOT’s website and noticed the construction on Route 3 is coming in to its 3rd year. Fortunately, lien and bond claim deadlines are not based on project completion! Which leads me to the real reason you are reading this post: lien and bond claim rights in Maine.

(Did you like that segue?)

Maine Mechanic’s Liens

Generally, there is no statutory provision requiring a preliminary notice on private commercial projects. Of course, NCS always recommends serving a non-statutory notice when no notice is required.

Residential projects are a bit different. There is a preliminary notice which may be served upon the owner at any time. It is recommended to serve the notice as early as possible as the lien, when later filed, will only be enforceable for the amount owed by the owner to the prime contractor at the time the notice is served. If no notice is served, a lien may still be filed. However, the lien will only be enforceable for the amount owed by the owner to the prime contractor at the time suit to enforce the lien is commenced.

There is one other notice remedy available. Bona Fide Purchaser: A notice may be recorded, at any time prior to the sale of the property, to protect against a bona fide purchaser taking title free of liens. If the work is ongoing, the notice must be renewed every 120 days.

Regardless of project type (commercial, residential, or a State of Maine Project), you should file the lien within 90 days from your last furnishing. Maine is a full balance lien state for commercial projects, which means the lien is enforceable for the full amount owed, regardless of payments made by the owner.

Wait. Did you catch that? A mechanic’s lien is available on a public project? In Maine, yes! Keeping reading!

But First, Maine Bond Claims

Just as with private commercial projects, public projects do not have a required preliminary notice. Again, as a best practice, always serve a non-statutory notice. In Maine, payment bonds are generally required for general contracts exceeding $125,000. Another best practice? Request a copy of the payment bond while obtaining project information – the earlier, the better.

§871. Public Works Contractors’ Surety Bond Law of 1971 | 3. Surety bonds.  Except as provided in Title 5, section 1745, before any contract exceeding $125,000 in amount for the construction, alteration or repair of any public building or other public improvement or public work, including highways, is awarded to any person by the State or by any political subdivision or quasi-municipal corporation or by any public authority, that person must furnish to the State or to the other contracting body, as the case may be…”

You should serve the bond claim upon the prime contractor within 90 days from last furnishing (if you contract directly with the prime contractor, a bond claim notice is not required).

Yes, a Mechanic’s Lien on a Public Project!

It’s true. It goes against everything I know about lien and bond claim rights. In fact, it blatantly contradicts one of the first rules I learned “no liens on public projects.” Alas, Maine statute is as unique as the landscape of the state itself. Maine statute allows for the filing of a mechanic’s lien on public projects:

§3251. Lien established Whoever performs labor or furnishes labor or materials, including repair parts of machines used, or performs services as a surveyor, an architect, a forester licensed under Title 32, chapter 76 or an engineer, or as a real estate licensee, or as an owner-renter, owner-lessor, or owner-supplier of equipment used in erecting, altering, moving or repairing a house, building or appurtenances, including any public building erected or owned by any city, town, county, school district or other municipal corporation, or in constructing, altering or repairing a wharf or pier, or any building thereon…”

If you need to proceed with a mechanic’s lien, you will want to refer to the guidelines for private projects.

Questions about Maine’s mechanic’s lien and bond claim rights, or even questions about my thrilling 3-week camping trip? Feel free to contact me!

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