How to Register a Builder’s Lien

Placing a Builder’s Lien in Nova Scotia is an option available to contractors like roofers, plumbers, electricians, landscapers and carpenters who have done work to improve a property and are concerned that they are not going to get paid. A Builders’ Lien is not available in all circumstances, but the definition is pretty broad. You do not even have to have completed the work you contracted to do to place a Lien.

Your ability to place a Lien in Nova Scotia expires 60 days after your last day on the job so its important to seek legal advice as soon as you begin to suspect payment and debt collection will be an issue.

The Lien is registered at the Nova Scotia Land Registration office against the property where you have done the work and will name the property owner, and if there is one, the general contractor. You will need to provide details to the lawyer placing the Lien including: a brief description of the work you did, the date you completed work, the amount you are owed (less any payments to date) and the address of the property where the work was done. The lawyer will prepare this information in a document called the Claim of Lien for Registration.  You will be provided with an opportunity to review this document and confirm its accuracy in a sworn statement called an Affidavit. Once your claim is registered, the other side will have to be notified that you have done so.

Often just registering the Lien is enough incentive for them to make payment, particularly if they are waiting on construction draws (the bank won’t allow further financing to be released if there is a Lien on the property). If you negotiate and receive payment, a lawyer will vacate (remove) the Lien.

If you do not negotiate payment, then the Lien will be valid on the property until exactly 105 days after your last day on the job.  At that point if you do nothing it will expire.  To keep the Lien in force you have to take a second step called ‘Perfection’. To perfect the Lien, you must start an action in Nova Scotia Supreme Court by filing a Statement of Claim and registering a court filed document called a ‘Lis Pendens’ at the Land Registration office. At this point you are in a law suit against the other party. You can continue to negotiate while working through the procedural steps of the law suit. If negotiations are unsuccessful a judge will decide whether you are owed any money and how much.

If you are having issues collecting on one of your jobs in Nova Scotia or have any questions about Builders Liens, we’d be happy to walk you though the options. You can call us at our Tantallon law office (902) 826-3070 to set up a meeting or contact us online to book a consult.

By Dianna M. Rievaj, LLB MBA Managing Lawyer

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