State protection for homeowners too late for local residents
A proposed bill would protect Pennsylvania homeowners against mechanics' liens filed by subcontractors, but it is too late for 17 Westmoreland County residents who paid a Texas roofing contractor but face liens filed by a building supplier.
The bill, introduced in the House of Representatives in May and amended in November, includes a provision that would prohibit a subcontractor from filing a mechanics' lien against an owner-occupied residential property if the homeowner paid the contractor in full.
Such a law would have prevented a situation for most of the 17 property owners facing mechanics' liens in Westmoreland because the roofing company they hired allegedly failed to pay the material supplier. One of the properties is an apartment building.
The liens were filed last month by ABC Supply Co. Inc., a Wisconsin-based company with an office in New Castle. ABC claimed in court papers that Prime Roofing Systems of Waxahachie, Texas, failed to pay them for more than $64,000 in building materials delivered to the 17 properties. Property owners have said they paid Prime Roofing for the work, which was done to repair damage from a tornado and hail storm that ripped through the county last March.
Rebecca Ruble of Hempfield, who had a $3,700 lien placed on her home by ABC Supply, said she realizes the bill will not help her. But she's glad the legislature is trying to fix the problem.
"At least there's something going forward," she said. "It may not help us, but it might help somebody. If they can get this bill through, those of us that pay our bills will not be punished for those who don't."
Bruce Hanson, executive director of the House Labor and Industry Committee, said the bill offers several protections for property owners.
Pennsylvania law allows subcontractors to file mechanics' liens on a property if they aren't paid for their work by the general contractor.
"The owner doesn't necessarily know who is all on the job, thus when he pays the bill, he doesn't know who's unpaid and who might file a mechanics' lien," Hanson said. "We're trying to make it easier for the owners to know who is on the job so they know if everybody is getting paid."
Under the bill, a property owner would file a notice when work starts, which would require all subcontractors and suppliers to provide owners with notice of the work they are performing or the materials they are providing.
Ohio has a similar law, Hanson said.
He expects the bill to be amended further to establish a website through the Department of Labor and Industry where all the notices can be filed.
The bill eliminates the ability of subcontractors to file liens on owner-occupied residences when the contractor has been paid in full. In those cases, a subcontractor could sue only the contractor.
"The argument is why should the average homeowner be held liable if they pay the contractor and the contractor doesn't pay the sub?" Hanson said. "Why should the homeowner have a lien filed against them?"
That part of the bill does not protect commercial developers and those who own apartment buildings or rental properties, though they would benefit from knowing who their subcontractors are.
"(They) are well-versed enough in the world to know there are mechanics' liens," Hanson said of those property owners.
He expects the House to vote on the bill in the next month and move it on for consideration in the Senate.
"It's a very important law, and we want to do it right, so we've taken our time with it," Hanson said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- State police trooper seriously hurt when hit by vehicle in East Huntingdon
- Greensburg torture killer seeks reduction in sentence
- Razing of Monsour Medical Center in Jeannette within reach with $1M grant
- Herminie woman, 18, dies after car accident in Turkeytown
- Fund set up for 4-year-old Meyersdale girl’s final expenses
- Hribal’s attorney seeks to push back trial
- Westmoreland County Historical Society honors late Tribune-Review publisher Scaife, Fort Ligonier trustee emeritus Fagan
- Westmoreland County to auction guns, vehicles
- Fire marshal rules Derry mobile home fire was accidental
- Laurel Art Club to meet at Scottdale library
- Herminie man admits 1 robbery at ATM