When an auto repair shop does work on your car, they can hold your car as security if you do not pay them for the repair. Such a procedure is called a Mechanic's Lien.
As far as the writer knows, such a lien has not been attempted by an artist in this state, but, in other states, it is possible where the artist has performed improvements or work on a premises of a semi-permanent nature. The artist may file a claim for a lien when the work was done pursuant to a contract, express or implied, with the owner of the premises. A prime example of this situation has come across my desk a number of times where an artist is contracted to paint a mural on the on the wall of business which owns the property.
If the artist contracted with the business which leases the property, a mechanic's lien can be filed only if the owner of the property "knowingly permitted" the improvements to be performed as the basis for a mechinic's lien is that the artist increases the value of the property by his/her work and has a right to go against the property itself if not paid for the work. This would also include a case where an artist paints houses or interiors to help earn income or provides decorating services.
In order to file a mechinc's lien, you must follow the strict procedures set in the statutes of your particular state. The basic procedure involves:
1. Send Notice to owner of property.
2. File Mechanic's Lien with the Town Clerk where the property worked on is located.
3. Bring a law suit in court on the claim of money owed or the lien will expire.
It is advisable that you seek legal advice on these matters before proceeding as there are time limits on the procedures which you may not know about. Also, if you file a lien on someone's property where you had no right to do so, you may become liable for any damages resulting from the lien which may prevent the owner from selling his property.
The purpose of this article is to alert you to the possibility of an artist persuing a mechanic's' lien. You are advised to tell your attorney about it and he, or she, can take it from there.
First Published Version, copyright 1993 David M. Spatt
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copyright 1997 David M. Spatt, All rights reserved
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