Signed Contracts Needed to Support Mechanics Lien in Massachusetts

Written for the Association of Corporate Counsel by Hugh J. Gorman, III of the law firm of Prince Lobel Glovsky & Tye LLP.

The Massachusetts District Court Appellate Division recently upheld a municipal court trial judge’s order dissolving a mechanic’s lien because written proposals betweena contractor and a property owner were never signed.

In the case of Petrucelli Construction Co., Inc. v. Hirain Barrios, the appellate division ruled that Massachusetts law requires that written contracts must be “signed by the party to be charged” in order to be enforceable. The mechanic’s lien statute G.L.c. 254, § 2A defines a written contract as “any written contract enforceable under the laws of the Commonwealth.”

In Petrucelli, because the contractor’s three proposals to the real property owner were never signed, there was no enforceable written contract upon which a mechanic’s lien could be founded. As a result, the appellate division upheld the trial court’s dissolution of the contractor’s mechanic’s lien.

The Petrucelli decision is a bright line reminder to contractors that in order to maintain an enforceable mechanic’s lien, you must have a written contract signed by the real property owner. Thereafter, you must also strictly adhere to the steps and timetables set forth in M.G.L.c. 254 to perfect it.