New Jersey Lien Law vs. Pennsylvania Lien Law: Notice and Timing Differences
This blog will be the first blog in a series of blogs exploring the main differences between the New Jersey Construction Lien Law and the Pennsylvania Construction Lien Law. This first blog deals with the substantial differences in notice and timing to file a construction lien between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The first thing that must be noted is that in the State of Pennsylvania a subcontractor is required to give formal written notice to the owner 30 days prior to filing a construction lien claim. The content of this notice is specifically delineated by statute and is a condition precedent to the right to file a lien claim. As to New Jersey, there is no notice requirement prior to the filing of a lien claim against a property. It should be noted, however, that the Pennsylvania Notice provision only applies to a subcontractor and not to a general contractor.
In the State of Pennsylvania, in order to perfect a lien the claimant must file the lien claim with the Clerk of the Court within 6 months after completion of work, and moreover, serve written notice upon the owner within one month after filing. Thereafter, an Affidavit of Service must be filed within 20 days after service upon the owner. This is entirely different than New Jersey Lien Law which provides that a commercial lien claim must be filed within 90 days of the last date of providing materials and/or services. As to a residential construction lien, the State of New Jersey has an entirely different process which simply does not exist within the State of Pennsylvania. This requires filing a Demand for Arbitration and other related steps. As such, this is an important difference in timing that should be noted by contractors who do work in both states.
In the State of Pennsylvania once a lien claim is filed, it is similar to a lawsuit has being filed in a sense that a party objecting to the lien can file an Answer with the Court. Should this take place, it triggers the commencement of a lawsuit and the matter will be litigated until its conclusion. On the contrary, in the State of New Jersey once a lien claim is filed the only way it could lead to a lawsuit is when the lien claimant files suit, or the owner files a notice giving the lien claimant 30 days to commence suit.
Finally, the last main difference that will be discussed in this blog is the time to file suit to foreclose upon the lien claim. In the State of New Jersey, a lawsuit must be commenced within one year of the filing of the lien claim. On the contrary, the State of Pennsylvania provides for a two year period. Obviously, this gives the lien claimant more time to file an action to collect upon its lien.
As such, a contractor who provides materials and services on construction projects in both the State of Pennsylvania and New Jersey must be aware of the substantial differences between the two relevant lien law sections. They are extremely different in many ways as well as the time periods.