Lien is invalid if homeowner was not notified

Q: My husband and I hired someone to do some repairs around our house. This included some roof repair, painting and the replacement of many cedar boards. Although we had a few disagreements along the way, the work was eventually done to our satisfaction and the contractor was paid in full.

Now, six months after the work was done, we have received a mechanics lien notice from a local lumberyard demanding $2,800 for the lumber used to repair our home. They are threatening to take us to court if we don't pay. We already paid for this with our full payment to our contractor. Are we on the hook to the lumberyard because our contractor failed to pay them?

A: Probably not. As this was your owner occupied residence, the subcontractor lumberyard was required to provide notice to you within 60 days of first furnishing the materials to your property. They were further required to serve a Notice of Intent to Lien on you within 90 days of last furnishing materials to your property.

In the event the lumberyard failed to serve you with either of these notices, it is likely they would lack the basis to move forward with prosecuting a mechanics lien lawsuit against you.

The purpose of these notices is to prevent exactly what happened to you. Once you receive a notice from the lumberyard that they provided $2,800 of materials to your property, you are alerted that this third party is owed money. Then, before you pay your contractor in full, you insist on a mechanics lien waiver from the lumberyard. If your contractor refuses to provide the lien waiver, you insist on holding back $2,800 until he or she does.

Contact a real estate attorney familiar with mechanics lien law for further review of your situation.

Q: I have rented a condominium in Wheaton from a guy for the past three years. The current lease is up at the end of January. I sent him an email last week telling him I would be moving out at the end of January.

I received an email from him telling me I had to give him 60 days notice if I was going to move. He said he would keep my security deposit and sue me for the months the unit is vacant starting Feb. 1. Is this legal? Was I required to give him 60 days notice?

A: Unless there is something in your lease or in Wheaton's village code requiring this notice, no, I don't believe any notice from you is required.

Check your lease as this is a somewhat common provision contained in written leases. You can also check with the village, though I am not aware of any local cities or villages that require written notice from a tenant to inform the landlord they are not signing a new lease, other than Chicago.

Q: We just learned that the second installment of 2021 real estate taxes on our house was not paid and we now owe a penalty. We just closed on this house in November, so we don't feel we should have to pay any 2021 real estate tax. How do we get this straightened out?

A: I am guessing you paid cash for this property and I'm guessing the property is in Cook County. I say this because: 1.) If the property was anywhere local other than Cook County, the second installment 2021 tax bill would have been paid long prior to November. If it was not paid, the delinquency would have appeared on a title report. And 2.) If you had a lender, the lender would have insisted money was put away to cover the second installment 2021 tax bill.

Look at the Master Settlement Statement you received from the closing. You will likely see you received a credit not only for the second installment 2021 real estate tax, but also for the period in 2022 that the seller owned the property. If you were represented by an attorney, call him or her and have them explain what occurred. If you did not have an attorney for your closing, contact any attorney familiar with the purchase and sale of real estate and they can review your documents.

• Send your questions to attorney Tom Resnick, 910 E. Oak St., Lake in the Hills, IL 60156, by email to or call (847) 359-8983.

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