Payment Feud Entraps Owner

  Question:  I recently signed an agreement with a contractor to install new kitchen cabinets in my Chandler home.  Without my knowledge or approval, this contractor subcontracted the work to a local carpenter.  The cabinets were built poorly and were not even the ones I wanted.  I paid my contractor after we settled for 20 percent off the original contract price.  Just two days ago I received a notice of a recorded mechanic’s lien from the local carpenter, who apparently is in a dispute with my contractor about being paid.  Even though I never signed a contract with this local carpenter, who says that he is a licensed contractor, does he have a right to record a mechanic’s lien against my home?  Do I need to respond to this notice of a recorded mechanic’s lien?

  Answer:  Because you are the owner of the home, and you did not sign any contract with the local carpenter, he has no mechanic’s lien rights.  Under Arizona Revised Statutes Section 33-1002, only a licensed contractor that has a written contract with the homeowner has a right to record a mechanic’s lien for unpaid home improvements.  Although you could wait until the local carpenter files a lawsuit to foreclose the alleged mechanic’s lien on your home, which must be done within six months after recording the mechanic’s lien, I would suggest that you contact the local carpenter now.  You should explain your lack of liability under Arizona law, and that any claim by the local carpenter for payment is not with you, but with your contractor.

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