Dallas Woman Threatened With Lien Notice For Unpaid Materials

After living in her Dallas home for 46 years, Mary Norton decided it was time for a new driveway.

"We saved up our money and so we were excited. We needed it and we were excited about getting a new driveway," she said.

Norton said a friend referred her to a local contractor who started on the job right away.

It only took two days and she was very happy with the finished product.

But a few weeks after they finished, Norton received a notice in the mail from a cement company claiming her contractor failed to pay them for materials, and because they couldn't reach the contractor, she would have to pay the invoice of $2460.

"I'm in shock to be honest with you. I was just totally in shock. I couldn't believe it," she explained.  

Norton said she and her husband had already paid the contractor $4500 cash.

But she said the cement company insisted that if they didn't get their money from the contractor, they would put a lien on her home.

"I called you because I've seen you numerous times on channel 5 and I needed help and I felt like you were the person that could help me," said Norton.

I started by calling her contractor, who told me he made sure the cement company was paid and said he didn't know what they were talking about.

Meanwhile, the cement company said the contractor never paid them and still owed money, leaving Norton in the middle of a nasty dispute with a potential lien on her home.

Dallas Attorney Steve Badger with Zelle LLP isn't representing either side, but he knows a thing or two about liens.

He said Texas law tries to strike a balance between the interest of contractors and consumers.

But in this case, Badger said the cement company wouldn't be able to pursue a lien.

He said in order to have a valid lien on this home, Norton's original contract would need a disclosure like this…

"...If a subcontractor or supplier who furnishes materials is not paid, your property may be subject to a lien for the unpaid amount...."

But no such disclosure was included in Norton's contract.

"There's a lot of things that have to happen when you're dealing with someone's home to make one of these liens proper. Otherwise they're improper and they can be invalidated. But sadly, that requires judicial action, and that's hard for homeowners," Badger explained.

So, I called the subcontractor back to ask him more questions about this lien notice.

The contractor told us he wasn't going to pursue the lien any further, and a few days later, Norton got a notice in the mail:

"This releases the signer for all labor, services, equipment or materials furnished to the property or to the owner."

"Because of your swift action, you and your team, I got immediate results," said Norton. "We are released from any type of obligation. I'm so happy."

That means a nearly $2500 debt has been wiped clean.

"If you want action, call NBC 5 Responds. You said you respond to every call and you do," she said.

Badger said there are other deadlines and requirements a business must meet in order to put a valid lien on your home.

He said consumers who receive a lien notice should click here for more information: https://www.bicanet.com/filing-a-mechanics-lien-in-texas/

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