Failure to Correctly Identify Property Owner Held to be Fatal Defect to Mechanic’s Lien
Kegler Brown Construction Newsletter August 1, 1998
A material supplier's mechanic's lien has been held to be invalid as a result of the lien claimant's failure to properly identify the property owner in the lien affidavit. Specifically, in Hoppes Builders and Development v. Hurren Builders, Inc. (1996), 118 Ohio App.3d 210, 211, the lien claimant, a material supplier, identified the property owner as "Mike Hurren" who in fact was the president, owner, and statutory agent for the company owning the property, "Hurren Builders, Inc."
The Second District Court of Appeals found that the mechanic's lien statutes should be strictly construed with respect to the creation of a lien. (citing Crock Constr. Co. v. Stanley Miller Constr. Co. (1993), 66 Ohio St.3d 588, 592.) As such, the court went on to find that the supplier's mechanic's lien did not satisfy Ohio Revised Code § 1311.06(A) which states that the name of the property owner must be included in the lien affidavit to create a lien on the property.
In making this ruling the court rejected the supplier's arguments that the mechanic's lien statutes should be construed liberally by finding that liens are liberally construed as to procedural and remedial provisions only after the lien has been created.
The court also rejected the supplier's reliance on Queen City Lumber Co. v. O.G. Enterprise, Inc. (March 30, 1983), Hamilton App. No. C-820440, 1983 WL 8761, in which the court found that the incorrect name of the property owner in the lien affidavit was sufficient to satisfy O.R.C. § 1311.06. Specifically, the lien claimant in Queen City identified the property owner as "O.G. McGee Enterprises, Inc." when in fact the correct name of the owner was "O.G. Enterprises, Inc." The Queen City court allowed this lien to stand because the name listed by the lien claimant, although incorrect, contained the entire name of the property owner. The Hoppes court distinguished the Queen City ruling on the fact that the supplier's lien at issue did not contain the "full" name of the property owner within the name listed on its affidavit as was the case in Queen City.
The Second District's holding in Hoppes Builders underscores the importance of obtaining the proper name of the property owner from either the notice of commencement for the project or from the deed from which the owner took title to the subject property.