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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

    Default If a Tenant Hires a Contractor, Can a Lien Be Placed on the Landlord's Property

    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: Pennsylvania

    I am the tenant in a relative's house. One of the requirements for me being able to live here is that I pay or do all maintenance and repairs to this house.

    I hired a contractor to install new windows and a new door on the house (my heating bills were becoming absurd.) This contractor is about 70% finished with the job, but is not coming back to finish the work, and the work that was done wasn't done very well.

    I have attempted to set up appointments with this contractor several times to make appointments and each time I've set up the appointment he is a no-show.

    The contractor told me he was licensed but he isn't advertised as such on his website or in any ads that I have found. I've also checked with to see if he was registered, and I cannot find any records of his business nor himself. So I feel as if he is not licensed, nor insured, as he had stated. He does advertise as LLC, so I assume he owns a legal business.

    The contractor was paid in full (via credit card.) I was planning to file a partial-claim through my credit card company for services not performed as described to recover some of the money to hopefully get him back to finish up, or someone else in to do this job.

    I was wondering before I took that step, would the contractor be able to file a lien on my relative's property? What if it turns out he is unlicensed? The last thing I want to do is give my relative any reason to think twice about letting me live in this residence.

    I have found this online:

    "No lien may be filed where a tenant improves leased premises with the landlord’s consent and there is no writing signed by the owner admitting that the work was for the immediate use and benefit of the owner. 49 P.S. § 1303(d)."

    Does that apply to this situation?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: If a Tenant Hires a Contractor, Can a Lien Be Placed on the Landlord's Property

    I see no indication that the contractor must be licensed.
    Quote Quoting 49 P.S. § 1201, Definitions
    (3) "Owner" means an owner in fee, a tenant for life or years or one having any other estate in or title to property.

    (4) "Contractor" means one who, by contract with the owner, express or implied, erects, constructs, alters or repairs an improvement or any part thereof or furnishes labor, skill or superintendence thereto; or supplies or hauls materials, fixtures, machinery or equipment reasonably necessary for and actually used therein; or any or all of the foregoing, whether as superintendent, builder or materialman. The term also includes an architect or engineer who, by contract with the owner, express or implied, in addition to the preparation of drawings, specifications and contract documents also superintends or supervises any such erection, construction, alteration or repair.
    The definition of "owner" is interesting, but the statute you mention specifies "owner in fee", which you are not.
    Quote Quoting 49 P.S. § 1303. Lien not allowed in certain cases
    (a) Persons other than contractors or subcontractors. No lien shall be allowed in favor of any person other than a contractor or subcontractor, as defined herein, even though such person furnishes labor or materials to an improvement.

    (b) Public purpose. No lien shall be allowed for labor or materials furnished for a purely public purpose.

    (c) Conveyance prior to lien. If the property by conveyed in good faith and for a valuable consideration prior to the filing of a claim for alterations or repairs, the lien shall be wholly lost.

    (d) Leasehold premises. No lien shall be allowed against the estate of an owner in fee by reason of any consent given by such owner to a tenant to improve the leased premises unless it shall appear in writing signed by such owner that the erection, construction, alteration or repair was in fact for the immediate use and benefit of the owner.

    (e) Security interests. No lien shall be allowed for that portion of a debt representing the contract price of any materials against which the claimant holds or has claimed a security interest under the Pennsylvania Uniform Commercial Code or to which he has reserved title or the right to reacquire title.
    However, the question arises of whether the contractor knew that you weren't the owner in fee, and if the owner in fee knew that you were entering into contracts while acting as if you were the owner. If the contractor reasonably believes you to be the owner in fee, and the actual owner knows that you are acting as if you're the owner when entering into contracts, a lien becomes possible. See, e.g., Chambers v. Todd Steel Pickling, Inc., 323 Pa.Super. 119, 470 A.2d 159 (1983).

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