Tennessee lien laws are fairly complicated, but a general rule of thumb is that contractors dealing directly with owners (i.e. “prime contractors”) have a year to assert lien rights and sub-contractors (i.e. “remote contractors”) need to take action in about 90 days.
Now that it’s been about ninety days after the historic floods in Nashville and Middle Tennessee, there may be an increase in flood related lien claims. Under the lien laws, Tenn. Code Ann. 66-11-101, et. seq., “excavation, cleanup, or removal or hazardous and nonhazardous material or waste from real property” is a lien-able “Improvement.”
Obviously, these economic times will impact the homeowners’ ability to pay, especially where they’ve lost everything. But, another factor may be insurance companies’ slow processing and payment of repair claims.
Faced with a potentially expiring lien deadline and an insurance payment that is always “pending,” the flood relief contractors may be forced to rely on the Tennessee lien statutes to protect their work.