In Nova Scotia, a builder’s lien that is registered against a property only stays valid for 105 days past the last day of work done on the property unless the lien is “perfected”. “Perfection” in the context of a builder’s lien means that the person who holds the lien formalizes their claim by starting a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. If no lawsuit is started within the required time, the lien becomes completely invalid.
If you are the home owner who has the lien against your property, and you have no urgency to remove the lien you can simply wait and see if the lien expires. If there is urgency for the home owner to remove the lien, (generally if there is pending financing or sale) it is worthwhile to put in significant effort to have the lien removed prior to its perfection. This generally happens by way of negotiation with the contractor.
If you are the contractor who holds the lien it is also generally worth investing substantial effort to resolve the lien claim prior to perfection - the time and money involved in commencing a lawsuit are significant. However, the reality is in a number of situations a settlement simply isn’t possible and a lawsuit is required to get a determination.
To perfect a builder’s lien in Nova Scotia, you will need to pay a filing fee, submit a formal statement of claim which outlines all of the details of your claim and have the court stamp a document called a Lis Pendens. Once these documents have been submitted to the court you will have to file the Lis Pendens at the registry of deeds in the same manner the builder’s lien was filed. This includes paying another $100 registration fee. A copy of the filed statement of claim and Lis Pendens must also be personally served on the debtor.
After the Lis Pendens has been filed and the debtor has been served you are now on the same track as any lawsuit in Nova Scotia. This will entail exchanging electronic and documentary evidence and having oral discoveries. If no settlement can be made after all of the evidence has been exchanged then there will be a trial.
Dealing with a builder’s lien is a serious matter and can have long lasting consequences if you are the homeowner.
If you have any questions about this subject, you can call us at (902) 826-3070 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a meeting with one of our lawyers at our Tantallon law firm. You can also schedule a no commitment Issue Review Consult for $100+HST where you have the opportunity to explain your situation to a lawyer and get basic advice before deciding whether or not you'd like to retain us.
By: Dianna M. Rievaj LLB, MBA Managing Lawyer
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