Illinois Mechanics Lien Forms


I frequently get requests for Mechanics Lien forms. They are commercially available at most Chicago Loop office supply stores, and at many other office supply stores and retail building materials stores across the state but please read the next paragraph.

I do a fair amount of work defending property owners from invalid liens which contractors record against title. Completing a lien properly is complex and difficult - I start with a title search to determine all record owners and lien holders. Most contractors have no idea what that is, let alone how to do it properly. Actually, I usually do it myself because most title insurance companies, who should be the world experts at it, also don't do it correctly.* Then there's the issue of proper service of notice, how and when, and to whom. Also, I am not aware of any sworn statements that are available commercially, and nothing on a form can tell you what information has to be on it. Nine out of ten liens drafted by others (including some attorneys), that I see are not valid, for reasons that have nothing to do with what is on a form. I think these forms do more harm than good, and most contractors would be better off not having them at all, because it provides a distraction to getting that part of the job done properly.

So, yes, you can buy a canned form, fill it out, and record it. But in doing so, you may end up getting sued instead of getting paid. Think of a lawyer as a subcontractor for an unusual trade. Do-it-yourself lawyering is like do-it-yourself asbestos abatement. Yes, it's possible, yes, it'll save money up front, and no, it's probably not a good idea if you don't want blowback later on. Fair warning.



* Title insurance companies generally have a standard form contract that protects them from this type of mistake, and then "save" money by hiring poorly trained 19-year-old high school graduates to "analyze" the complex legal documents at the county recorder's office. If you don't believe me, go to the county recorder's office and see for yourself who is doing title searches. There oughta be a law.

For a variety of perspectives on the Illinois Mechanics Lien Act, click here

Copyright 2002, Thomas J. Westgard