The Strict Requirements of Minnesota’s Mechanics’ Lien Statute

December 7, 2020

Mechanic’s liens are creatures of statute. That means that in order to keep the advantages they offer, contractors must meticulously adhere to the requirements in Minnesota’s mechanic’s lien statute, 514.01, et seq. This leads to some interesting problems and perhaps unexpected results. Those results make more sense if you keep in mind: courts require rigorous adherence to the statutory requirements.

The Court of Appeals addressed an issue about the statute back in 2005 that illustrates the point. In Wong v. Interspace-West, the contractor filed a mechanic’s lien on Wong’s property. Wong took the offensive and brought a declaratory judgment action, seeking a court order declaring that the lien was invalid because the contractor gave insufficient notice. Minn. Stat. § 514.011, subd. 1 requires that notice – when printed – be given in bold type, at least a ten-point font. However, if the notice is typewritten, then the notice must be put in all capital letters.

Unsurprisingly, in 2004 when the notice was given, the contractor created the notice on a word processor and printed it out. The homeowner contended that constituted notice by a typewriter because the notice had to be input via a keyboard, or typed in. The contractor contended that it was printed. The district court agreed with the homeowner and found the notice insufficient. The Court of Appeals reversed that decision and held that under the statute, the focus should be on the output rather than the input. Therefore, the computer-generated notice has sufficient characteristics of a printed document, and the bold, ten-point type is sufficient. The Minnesota Supreme Court declined to review the case, letting the decision stand. Wong v. Interspace-West, Inc., 701 NW 2d 301 (Minn. App. 2005).

Since then, prudent contractors provide notice in bold, ten-point font and use capital letters to avoid just such a claim. Many contractors are uncertain about the requirements of mechanic’s liens, which are a valuable way to secure payment for your company’s work. If you are concerned about whether your company is complying with Minnesota’s requirements for those liens, feel free to contact us to go over the requirements. Planning ahead can save time and expense down the road.

This entry contains general information and is not intended to substitute as legal advice nor to create an attorney-client relationship. An attorney-client relationship requires a Legal Services Agreement and a full discussion of your issue.