Last month, Governor Deval Patrick approved Senate Bill No. 2512 (now Chapter 424 of the Acts of 2010), amending the coverage of Chapter 254 of Massachusetts General Laws to include design professionals. Effective July 1, 2011, Massachusetts-licensed or registered architects, landscape architects, professional engineers, licensed site professionals and land surveyors will share the same mechanics’ lien rights that contractors, subcontractors and materialmen have benefitted from for at least the past fifteen (15) years.

The amendments to Massachusetts mechanics lien law will afford design professionals, as well as general contractors, subcontractors and suppliers, and laborers on all private projects involving an improvement to real estate with security for the value of their services, labor and materials furnished. Like other lien claimants, design professionals will be required to comply with detailed statutory procedures which must be strictly adhered to, or enforcement of statutory lien rights will fail and potentially be permanently sacrificed.  

The balance of the Massachusetts mechanics lien law remains largely unchanged. For instance the law will continue to provide a means for persons searching land records in the appropriate registry of deeds to confirm whether or not title to a particular property is encumbered by a mechanic’s lien. All real estate and construction industry participants, including property owners, landlords, tenants, developers, lenders, design professionals, and contractors of every tier, should familiarize themselves with the comprehensive requirements of the Massachusetts mechanic’s lien law, including the soon-tobe effective amendments.

A thorough understanding of the law’s substantive and procedural requirements is part of sound business strategy and is an essential component of any effective risk management plan. Thoughtful consideration of the rights and duties of all parties under the existing and revised mechanics lien law should influence the provisions of commercial lease agreements, loan documents, construction and design contracts and other related documents, including terms for indemnity, payment and lien prevention bond requirements and other forms of security.

All participants in the construction and real estate industry should consult with knowledgeable legal counsel for strategic business guidance, assistance with the negotiation and drafting of affected instruments, and legal advice concerning the enforcement of rights and obligations under the Massachusetts mechanics lien law.