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TITLE 25 PROPERTY PART II MORTGAGES AND OTHER LIENS
CHAPTER 27 MECHANICS’ LIENS
SUBCHAPTER I GENERAL PROVISIONS
SUBCHAPTER II ENFORCEMENT IN SUPERIOR COURT
2711 Time for Filing Statement of Claims
TITLE 25 PROPERTY PART II MORTGAGES AND OTHER LIENS
CHAPTER 27 MECHANICS’ LIENS SUBCHAPTER I GENERAL PROVISIONS
As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning.
2702 Persons Entitled to Lien
(a)It shall be lawful for any person having performed or furnished labor or material, or both, to an amount exceeding $25 in or for the erection, alteration or repair of any structure, in pursuance of any contract, express or implied, with the owners of such structure or with the agent of such owner or with any contractor who has contracted for the erection, alteration or repair of the same and for the furnishing of the whole or any part of the materials therefore, including any person who has performed or furnished labor or material, or both, for or at such structure under a contract with or order from any subcontractor to obtain a lien upon such structure and upon the ground upon which the same may be situated or erected.
2703 Requirements for Lien on Land
No lien shall attach in case the improvements are to the land alone, unless a contract in writing, signed by the owner or owners thereof, setting forth the names of all parties to the contract and containing a description by the metes and bounds of the land to be affected and by a statement of the general character of the work to be done, and of the total amount to be paid thereunder, and the amounts of the partial payments, together with the time when such payments shall be due and payable.
2704 Corporations or Individuals
Liens may be filed for or against corporations or individuals.
2705 Lists of Suppliers of Labor and Materials, Demand
The owner of any structure built, repaired or altered by any contractor or subcontractor may require such contractor or subcontractor from time to time to furnish and submit to him a complete and accurate list in writing of all persons who have furnished labor or material, or both, in connection therewith, and who may be entitled to avail themselves of the provisions of this chapter. Should any such contractor or subcontractor fail to furnish such list for 10 days after demand made therefore by such owner, he shall be entitled to receive no further payments from the owner until such list be furnished and shall not be entitled to avail himself of any of the provisions of this chapter.
2706 Waivers of Liens
(a) Persons entitled to avail themselves of the lien provided for in this chapter shall not be considered as waiving the same by granting a credit or receiving notes or other securities, unless the same be received as payment or the lien expressly waived, but the sole effect thereof shall be to prevent such persons from availing themselves of the liens provided for in this chapter until the expiration of the time agreed upon.
2707 Restrictions on Liens on Residences; Certifications and Releases
No lien shall be obtained under this chapter upon the lands, structure, or both, of any owner which is used solely as a residence of said owner when the owner has made either full or final payment to the contractor, in good faith, with whom he contracted for the construction, erection, building, improvement, alteration or repair thereof. Prior to or simultaneous with the receipt of any full or final payment by the contractor, the contractor must provide the owner either (1) a notarized, verified written certification that the contractor has paid in full for all labor performed and materials furnished to the date of such full or final payment in or for such construction, erection, building, improvement, alteration or repair or (2) a written release of mechanics’ liens signed by all persons who would otherwise be entitled to avail themselves of the provisions of this chapter, containing a notarized, verified certification signed by the contractor that all of the persons signing the release constitute all of the persons who have furnished materials and performed labor in and for the construction, erection, building, improvement, alteration and repair to the date of the release and who would be entitled otherwise to file mechanics’ liens claims. Failure of the contractor to provide the owner a written certification or a release of mechanics’ liens at such time shall constitute sufficient cause for the immediate suspension, revocation or cancellation of the contractor’s occupational and business licenses. If the owner has not made full payment in good faith to such contractor, the lien may be obtainable in accordance with this chapter, but it shall be a lien only to the extent of the balance of the payment due such contractor, which balance or portion shall be payable pro rata among the claimants who perfect liens. Payments made to the contractor by the owner after service of process, as provided in section 2715 of this title, shall not be deemed to be “in good faith.”
2708 Subcontractors Liens, Fringe Benefits
A mechanics’ lien may be used to secure payment of any unpaid amounts due under contract from the contractor arising from a subcontractor’s labor including payment of fringe benefit items. As used in this section, the phrase “fringe benefit items” shall have the same meaning as the phrase“benefits or wage supplements” defined in s 1109(b) of Title 19.
SUBCHAPTER II ENFORCEMENT IN SUPERIOR COURT
2711 Time for Filing Statements of Claims
(a) A contractor who (1) has made his contract directly with the owner or reputed owner of any structure and (2) has furnished both labor and material in and for such structure shall file no statement of claim until after the expiration of 90 days from the completion of such structure contracted for by him; but such contractor, in order to avail himself of the benefits of this subchapter, shall file his statement of claim within 30 days after the expiration of the 90-day period.
2712 Contents of Statement of Claims, Complaint
(a) Every person entitled to the benefits conferred by this chapter and desiring to avail himself of the lien provided for in this chapter, shall, within the time specified in this chapter, file a statement of claim, which may also serve as a complaint when so denominated, in the office of the Prothonotary of the Superior Court in and for the county wherein such structure is situated.
2713 Liens Against Two or More Structures
In every case in which 1 claim for labor or materials is filed by the same person against 2 or more structures owned by the same person for building, altering or repairing 2 or more structures owned by the same person, the claimant shall, at the time of filing such joint claim, designate the amount which he claims to be due to him on each of such structures.
2714 Scira Facias
(a) The proceedings to recover the amount of any claim shall be by writ of scire facias.
2715 Writ of Scire Facias
The writ shall be issued, returnable and served in the same manner as other writs of scire facias upon the defendant therein named, if he can be found within the county. A copy of the writ shall be left with some person residing in the structure to which the labor was done or for which the materials were furnished, if occupied as a place of residence, but if not so occupied, the sheriff shall affix a copy of such writ upon the door or other front part of such structure.
2716 Default, Defense
Judgment by default may be entered for the plaintiff at such time and in the manner prescribed by the rules of the Superior Court, unless the defendant has previously filed in the cause an affidavit that he verily believes there is a legal defense to the whole or part of such cause of action and setting forth the nature and character of the defense. If the defense is to a part only, then the defendant shall specify the sum really due, and judgment may be entered for the plaintiff at his election for the sum acknowledged to be due. If judgment is not so entered by default, then like proceedings shall be had as in other cases of scire facias.
2717 Proof of Claim
Proof by the claimant that labor or materials, or both, was performed or furnished upon or to any structure, or immediately adjacent thereto, shall be prima facie evidence that the same was performed or furnished for and on the credit of such structure.
2718 Judgment Lien
(a) Any judgment obtained under a claim made in accordance with this subchapter shall become a lien upon such structure and upon the ground upon which the same is situated, erected or constructed and shall relate back to the day upon which the labor was begun or the furnishing of material was commenced, or the time immediately following the time of recording of a first mortgage, or a conveyance in the nature of a first mortgage, upon such structure which is granted to secure an existing indebtedness or future advances provided at least 50% of the loan proceeds are used for the payment of labor or materials, or both, for such structure, whichever shall last occur.
The execution of every judgment under the foregoing provisions shall be by writ of levari facias in the following form: “_________County, ss.: The State of Delaware.
To the Sheriff of said County,
Greeting: We command you that without any other writ from us of the following described building and lot of ground, to wit (describing the same according to the record), in your bailiwick, you cause to be levied as well a certain debt of ____ which _____. lately in our Superior Court for the County aforesaid, before the Judges thereof, recovered against .____ to be levied of the said building and lot of ground, as also the interest thereon from the ______ day of ____ A. D.,.____. and also the sum of ._______ for the cost which accrued thereon, according to the form and effect of an act of the General Assembly in such cases made and provided, and have you there moneys before our Judges at ______ at our Superior Court in and for the County of _______ there to be held on the ______day of ____ next to render unto the said _________ for his debt, interest and costs aforesaid, and have you then there this writ.”
Witness (as in similar writs).
2720 Ratable Division
If the proceeds received from any sale under the writ of levari facias is not sufficient to pay in full all liens, such proceeds shall be ratably divided among the persons who have availed themselves of the provisions of this chapter without priority or preference of one over the other.
2721 Personal Actions
(a) Nothing contained in this subchapter shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect the right of any person to whom any debt may be due for labor done or materials furnished to maintain any personal action against the owner or contractor of such structure to recover the amount of such debt.
2722 Work Ordered by Tenants
Nothing contained in this subchapter shall be construed to render property liable to liens under this chapter for repairs, alterations or additions, when such property has been altered, added to or repaired by or at the instance of any lessee or tenant without the prior written consent of the owner or his duly authorized agent.
2723 Withholding Funds from Contractor
The owner of any structure built, repaired or altered by any contractor who has contracted to build, erect, alter or repair the same and furnish the materials therefore may, in case any liens are entered under this chapter upon the structure, upon any claim for materials which by the terms of his contract the contractor was bound to furnish, by any person or persons other than such contractor, retain and withhold from such contractor so much of the moneys to be paid to him in pursuance of the contract made with such contractor as may be necessary to liquidate and discharge such liens; and, in case judgment is recovered by such lien creditors, the owner may apply the moneys or such part thereof as may be necessary to satisfy the judgment to the payment and satisfaction thereof. Such payment shall be considered and treated as a payment pro tanto to the contractor towards the moneys provided to be paid by the contractor.
2724 Mechanics Lien Docket
The Prothonotary in each county of this State shall procure and keep a docket, to be called “The Mechanics’ Lien Docket,” in which he shall make an entry of each claim filed, setting down therein the names of the parties, plaintiff and defendant, the amount claimed, the day upon which the claim is filed and of the issuing of the scire facias, a description of the property against which the claim is sought to be charged, amount for which judgment is rendered, the day on which the same is rendered, the party for and against whom it is rendered and, in case of judgment for the plaintiff, the time to which the judgment relates back as a lien and other entries necessary and proper to a full understanding of the case. The time to which the judgment relates back as a lien shall be ascertained in the same manner as the amount of the judgment is ascertained.
2725 Lien and Personal Action
(a) When the claimant proceeds under this chapter for availing himself of his lien and institutes any personal action for the same demand or any part thereof or for a demand of which the amount for which he claims a lien is a part, it shall be no objection in either suit that some of the parties defendant in the 1 suit are not also parties defendant in the other suit. In any such personal action or in the suit to avail himself of the lien, whichever is last docketed, the plaintiff shall file an affidavit setting out the demand in each of the suits and stating to what extent the respective demands are identical. The judgment in either of the actions shall not be pleaded as a bar in the other action.
2726 Liens on Vessels
This subchapter shall also extend to labor or materials performed or furnished in the construction, alteration, furnishing, rigging, launching or repairing of any ship or vessel within this State. No bill of particulars and affidavit shall be filed more than 1 year after such ship or vessel has been launched, rigged, furnished and ready for sea or after such repairs have been completed and shall contain the name of the ship or vessel or a description thereof sufficient for identification. Upon filing the bill of particulars and affidavit under the provisions of this section, the Prothonotary may issue a writ of attachment, directed to the sheriff of the county in which the ship or vessel may be, commanding the sheriff to attach the defendant by such ship or vessel, together with the tackle, apparel and furniture, wheresoever the same may be found in his bailiwick, so that he appears at the next term of the Superior Court to answer the plaintiff’s demands. The sheriff shall, under such writ, seize and take possession of the ship or vessel and have the same inventoried and appraised and shall be answerable therefore. If the defendant in the attachment at any time before judgment appears and enters into recognizance to the plaintiff in the writ of attachment in a reasonable penalty and with surety to be approved by the Prothonotary with condition to pay the condemnation money and all costs or otherwise abide the judgment of the Superior Court in the case and if he fails to make good his plea, the attachment shall be dissolved, the ship or vessel shall be discharged, and the case shall proceed as in other cases of assumpsit for work and labor or materials furnished.
2727 Audits, Reports
On the return of the writ of attachment or summons the Court may, upon petition of any person claiming to have performed or furnished labor or materials at the request of the plaintiff or plaintiffs in the attachment, appoint 3 suitable persons to audit and determine the claim of the plaintiff and also the claim of the petitioner, who shall adjust and ascertain all the demands, including that of the plaintiff in the writ. The auditors shall severally be sworn or affirmed to perform their duties according to the best of their skill and knowledge. They shall give 10 days notice to the parties of the time and place of their first meeting by advertisement, posted at the courthouse door and at least 5 other public places in the county. Their subsequent sittings shall be by adjournment duly made and publicly announced. They may investigate any claim presented in any form they judge best and may examine any of the parties upon oath or affirmation. On receipt of the proceeds of the sale of the property attached or against which judgment is obtained or any part thereof, the auditors shall calculate and settle the proportions and dividends due the several parties and shall make report to the next term of the Court after such appointment and, upon confirmation of the report, pay over to the several parties their respective share of the proceeds according to such appointment. The Court may hear exceptions to and correct such account and report, either in the calculations, dividends, apportionment, or otherwise.
2728 Attachments, Judgments
If the attachment has not been dissolved, as provided in this subchapter, judgment may be given for the plaintiff in the attachment at the second term after issuing the writ as in other cases of attachment, and hereupon the Court may order that the sheriff shall sell the property attached, on due notice, and pay the proceeds, deducting legal costs and charges, to auditors for distribution. Any balance remaining due from the defendant in the attachment to any of the parties after such distribution of the proceeds may be collected as other debts, and any surplus after paying costs shall be returned to the defendant or his executors, administrators or assigns. All sales made under this subchapter shall be good against the defendant, his executors, administrators or assigns.
2729 Cash Deposit, Security
(a) Cash deposit. ¾ Any claim filed hereunder shall, upon petition of the owner or any party in interest, be discharged as a lien against the property whenever a sum equal to the amount of the claim shall have been deposited with the Court in said proceedings for application to the payment of the amount finally determined to be due. Said petition shall include an affidavit by the owner or party in interest setting forth which parts of the claim filed hereunder are disputed and which parts are not disputed. The nondisputed part of the claim shall be paid to the claimant before the lien against the property is discharged. If it is finally determined by the Court that the disputed portion of the claim has been grossly overstated by the affiant, the Court may, in its discretion, award damages to the claimant against the affiant in an amount up to twice the figure stated by the affiant to be disputed.
2731 Lien for Less Than $100
Any person having performed any labor to any amount less than $100 in or for the erection, alteration or repair of any structure or bridge, in pursuance of any contract, expressed or implied, with the owner or reputed owner of such structure or bridge or with any contractor who has contracted for the erection, alteration or repair of any structure or bridge, or any part thereof, may obtain a lien upon such structure or bridge and upon the ground upon which the same may be situated or erected in the manner provided in this subchapter.
2732 Time for Filing Claim
No person having done or performed any labor in or about the erection, alteration or repair of any structure or bridge shall be allowed to file any statement of his claim before a justice of the peace until after the expiration of 20 days from the time of the last labor done or performed by him, but, in order to avail himself of the benefits of this subchapter, he shall file his claim within 10 days after the expiration of the 20 days aforesaid. Any person entitled to the benefits of this subchapter shall file his claim under oath, within the time above specified, with any justice of the peace of the county wherein such structure or bridge is situated.
2733 Statement of Claim
The statement of claim shall set forth the names of the party claimant, the owner or reputed owner of the structure or bridge, the contractor and the kind of labor done and whether the contract was with the owner or his agent or with the contractor, the sum claimed to be due, the time when the labor was commenced and finished, the location of such structure or bridge, the ground upon which the same is situated, and a description sufficient to identify the same.
2734 Summons, Failure to Appear
Immediately upon the filing of any claim under this subchapter, the justice of the peace with whom the claim is filed shall issue a summons, as in other civil cases, to the owner and contractor, directed to any constable of the county. The time for the defendant’s appearance shall not be more than 3 days from the date of the summons, and not more than 2 adjournments shall be had and then only from day to day. If the defendant fails to appear at the time appointed or if after a hearing the justice is satisfied of the correctness of the claim, he shall give judgment as in other cases and, upon the payment of cost and a demand for the transcript, he shall furnish such transcript.
2735 Transcript of Judgment
The transcript and judgment may be entered in the Superior Court of the county in which the structure is situated and, when so entered, if within 2 days from the date of the judgment, shall become a lien on such structure or bridge and upon the ground upon which the same is erected and shall relate back to the day when the labor was commenced and shall take priority accordingly. Any and all transcripts taken and entered in the Superior Court under this subchapter shall contain a description of the property upon which it is to become a lien and shall conform to the description set forth in the plaintiff’s statement. All costs and charges shall follow the judgment and shall be the same as are authorized by law in civil cases before justices of the peace. Every contractor, when so required, shall give ample security to the owner of any structure being altered, erected or repaired by him to save such owner harmless from the provisions of this subchapter.
The execution of every judgment entered in the Superior Court upon transcript under the provisions of this subchapter shall be by writ of levari facias in the following form:
“__________ County, ss.:The State of Delaware.
To the Sheriff of said County,
Greeting: We command you that without any other writ from us, of the following described building and lot of ground, to wit (describing the same according to the record) in your bailiwick, you cause to be levied as well a certain debt of _______ which _______ lately before one of the justices of the peace for the County aforesaid recovered against ________. to be levied of the said building and lot of ground, as also the interest thereon from the .________ day of ._______ .D ..________ and also the sum of .______ for the costs which accrued thereon according to the form and effect of an Act of the General Assembly in such cases made and provided, and have you there the moneys before our Judges at _______ at our Superior Court in and for the County of ._______ there to be held on the .______ day of _______ next, to render unto the said ._____ for his debt, interest and costs aforesaid and have you then there this writ.”
Witness (as in similar writs).
2737 Transferred To section 2729 of Subchapter II of this chapter.