Embed from Getty Images
North Carolina’s lien agent statute, which went into effect on April 1 last year, celebrated its first birthday yesterday.
Didn’t join the party? I can’t say I’m surprised.
While the conservative approach is to rely on an experienced construction attorney to serve preliminary lien and bond notices for North Carolina construction projects, there are many subs and suppliers who prefer the DIY approach. I’m sure many of you do-it-yourselfers already rely on these web-based tools for facilitating your preliminary notices, but just in case, here are my three favorites:
Most recent update: Thursday, June 28, 2012 9:22 p.m.Both the lien law revisions bill and the “hidden lien” legislation sought by the title insurance industry flew through the N.C. Senate yesterday with flying colors.
The lien law revisions bill (House Bill 1052), which among other things would (1) provide “double payment” protection for general contractors under North Carolina’s public payment bond statute and (2) permit subs and suppliers to serve a Notice of Claim of Lien Upon Funds even after a party above them in the contractual chain files for bankruptcy protection, passed unanimously 49-0, with one Senator not voting.
The bill was amended prior to the vote to remove treble damages liability for misrepresentations made in lien waivers. I was listening to the Senate’s deliberations on the amendment, and Senators Brunstetter, Clodfelter, Tillman and Nesbitt all spoke about the dangers of introducing potential unfair and deceptive trade practices liability into a construction project’s payment cycle. The amendment was unanimously approved by the House on Thursday, June 28. The revised bill, as amended, can be found here.
The hidden lien legislation (Senate Bill 42), which among other things would require potential lien claimants to preserve their lien rights by providing a “Hi, I’m here” pre-notice to the project owner’s designated lien agent on residential and commercial projects, also passed unanimously 49-0, but not without some heartburn. In particular, Senator Tommy Tucker of Waxhaw spoke about how the legislation was only before the General Assembly “under a veiled threat” by the title insurance industry, thereby representing a “you’d better!” bill that would leave subcontractors “holding the bag again.” He expressed his support for the bill since the homebuilding industry supported it, but expressed his desire that the General Assembly re-visit the legislation early in the 2013 session to improve it before its April 1, 2013 effective date.
The version of SB 42 passed by the Senate contained several revisions to the version passed in the House on June 21. In the intervening week, a group of construction industry stakeholders — yours truly included, in the interest of full disclosure — worked to propose several modifications that would remove some of the rough edges from the House-passed bill. Those proposed modifications included the following:
These modifications and others are contained in a conference report that was adopted by both the House and Senate yesterday that you can find here. Legislative action on the hidden lien bill is complete, subject to the bill potentially being “tweaked” early in the next legislative session.
Both bills are on their way to Governor Perdue for her approval, which is expected before the end of the month.
Many thanks to Representative Sarah Stevens of Mount Airy for reaching out to me yesterday with news of these developments, and for all of her efforts in shepherding these important bills to the finish line.