What is required for a tradesman to file a lien?

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Long story short, my wife and I have a condo where a terrible plumbing company botched a water heater replacement, caused a lot of subsequent damage, failed the city inspection, then demanded payment in full. We never had a written contract and they haven’t provided us an invoice, yet the project has not been very friendly and they filed a Notice to Lien on us. With 15 days to go on the notice, is this a scare tactic or can they legitimately file a lien at the end of the 15-day period when no contract or invoice has been signed or provided?

Maybe, maybe not, depending on your state laws regarding verbal contracts.  More importantly, it likely won’t be valid and you could have it squashed.  As per your state law, the contractor would have a set time, usually 90 days to one year, to actually file suit to enforce the lien, or it will expire.  This may be able to be shortened by “contesting the lien”.  If you’re not planning on selling/refinancing within the this time I wouldn’t be overly concerned about it....the plumber knows he’ll never win and will never file suit.

Google up your state mechanic lien laws, and talk to an attorney if you feel the need.