Contractors – Construction Liens – Rhode Island
Note: This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive discussion of Rhode Island’s construction or mechanic’s lien laws, but does include basic provisions.
What is a construction or mechanic’s lien?
Every State permits a person who supplies labor or materials for a construction project to claim a lien against the improved property. While some states differ in their definition of improvements and some states limit lien claims to buildings or structures, most permit the filing of a document with the local court that puts parties interested in the property on notice that the party asserting the lien has a claim. States differ widely in the method and time within which a party may act on their lien. Also varying widely are the requirements of written notices between property owners, contractors, subcontractors and laborers, and in some cases lending institutions. As a general rule, these statutes serve to prevent unpleasant surprises by compelling parties who wish to assert their legal rights to put all parties who might be interested in the property on notice of a claim or the possibility of a claim. This by no means constitutes a complete discussion of construction lien law and should not be interpreted as such. Parties seeking to know more about construction laws in their State should always consult their State statutes directly.
Who can file a lien in this State?
The law of Rhode Island permits contractors, subcontractors, and any party who provides labor and/or materials to claim a lien “Whenever any building, canal, turnpike, railroad, or other improvement shall be constructed, erected, altered, or repaired by oral or written contract with or at the oral or written request of the owner, the owner being at the time the owner of the land on which the improvement is located, or by the husband of such owner with the consent of his wife, the building, canal, turnpike, railroad, or other improvement, together with the land, is hereby made liable and shall stand subject to liens for all the work done by any person in the construction, erection, alteration, or reparation of such building, canal, turnpike, railroad, or other improvement, and for the materials used in the construction, erection, alteration, or reparation thereof, which have been furnished by any person.”
How long does a party have to file a lien?
A lien claimant must provide the property owner with a Notice of Intent to Claim Lien within one hundred twenty (120) days after the furnishing of labor and/or materials. The Notice of Intent also advises the property owner that all that is necessary for the lien claimant to officially claim a lien is to file the Notice in the records of land evidence in the city or town where the property is located.
By what method is a lien filed in this State?
Within one hundred twenty (120) days after the providing of labor or materials the lien claimant must provide the owner with a Notice of Intent to Claim Lien and file a copy of said lien with the appropriate court.
How long is a lien good for?
A Notice of Intent to claim a lien is only valid for one hundred twenty (120) days after filing. Within that time a lien claimant must file a petition with the court in conjunction with a Notice of Lis Pendens.
Are liens assignable?
Rhode Island does not appear to have a statue which addresses whether liens may be assigned to other parties.
Does this State require or provide for a notice from subcontractors and laborers to property owners?
Yes. Possible lien claimants must provide a Notice of Intent to Claim a Lien. The filing of a petition to enforce the lien must be accompanied by a Notice of Lis Pendens. Finally, a lien claimant may demand in writing that the owner or the owner’s agent make a direct payment to the lien claimant through a Demand for Direct Payment form.
Does this State require or provide for a notice from the property owner to the contractor, subcontractor, or laborers?
No. Rhode Island law does not provide or require specific notices from the property owner to contractors, subcontractors, or laborers.
Does this State require a notice prior to starting work, or after work has been completed?
No. Rhode Island statutes do not require a Notice of Commencement or a Notice of Completion as in some other States.
Does this State permit a person with an interest in property to deny responsibility for improvements?
No. Rhode Island statutes do not have a provision which permits the denial of responsibility for improvements.
Is a notice attesting to the satisfaction of a lien provided for or required?
No. Rhode Island statutes do not provide for or require that a lien holder who has been paid produce or file a notice to that effect.