Mechanics liens allow contractors to perform their work with some security. These rights serve as a guarantee that you would get paid for work you do on somebody else’s land or building.

You would already have a contract that outlines all of the terms of your agreement with the owner. Unfortunately, not everyone plays by the rules. Think of liens as an extra safety net to cover your investment in a project.

Who can file a lien?

The language in Illinois law, specifically the Mechanics Lien Act, is somewhat complicated. Essentially, it says that you would already have a lien if you were under contract and had completed your job.

When you take legal action, you would not be creating the lien. Instead, you would be notifying the owner of the property of your intent to follow through on your rights. This notification begins a highly regulated legal process that should ideally end with you receiving payment for the improvements you made.

What is a lien?

Liens are essentially a right you have to the value you add to someone else’s property. To have this right, you have to be a contractor, and you also have to have some official authorization to perform the work.

Your lien is attached to the property — regardless of the form of ownership — and you and the owner automatically create it by signing a contract for your work.

To sum up, liens are an extra legal protection beyond your contract. You create them automatically by entering into a formal agreement, but you do you have to file some paperwork in order to start the process of collecting your money.

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