By: Thomas S. Tripodianos Published: January 2012

Lien Law Expiration

Question. I am moving to have my mechanic's lien extended for one year. What constitutes one year under §17. The plain language of the statute indicates that a lien shall expire one year from the filing of the original lien or previous extension, the Lien Law does not specify any details about when the year begins and expires?

Answer. This is actually a novel issue. The original date of filing a lien, or the date of filing of its extension, is excluded in making the reckoning to calculate the one-year period.

Lienor wants to have its mechanic's lien extended for a year. Lienor filed the original mechanic's lien on May 15, 2009. Lienor then properly extended the mechanic's lien, pursuant to Lien Law Section 17, by the filing of an extension with the Clerk on May 4, 2010. On May 4, 2011, Lienor seeks to extend its mechanic's lien for another year.

The application extending the lien for an additional year was opposed on the sole ground that the lien had expired on May 3, 2011. Lienor argues that its filing for an extension on May 4, 2011 was within the one year period provided for by Lien Law Section 17. Property owner contends that May 4, 2011 is one day after the one year period allowed for by Lien Law Section 17.

The novel issue presented is what constitutes a year under Lien Law Section 17. Lien Law Section 17 states, in pertinent part, that:

No lien shall be continued by such extension for more than one year from the filing thereof. In the event an action is not commenced to foreclose the lien within such extended period, such lien shall be extinguished unless an order be granted by a court of record or a judge or justice thereof, continuing such lien, and such lien shall be redocketed as of the date of granting such order and a statement made that such lien is continued by virtue of such order.

The plain language of the statute indicates that a lien shall expire one year from the filing of the original lien or the previous extension. However, the Lien Law does not specify any details when the year begins and expires. Therefore, we must resort to general statutory interpretation and construction to give meaning to the expression that the extension of the lien had to be filed no later than one year from the previous extension date of May 4, 2010.

Article 2 of the General Construction Law ("GCL") gives the "meaning of terms" which GCL Section 110 states "is applicable to every statute unless its general object, or the context of the language construed, or other provisions of law indicate that a different meaning or application was intended from that required to be given by this chapter." Under GCL Section 58, the term year, in a statute, contract, or any public or private instrument, means three hundred and sixty-five days. Furthermore, GCL Section 20 states that:

In computing any specified period of time from a specified event, the day upon which the event happens is deemed the day from which the reckoning is made. The day from which any specified period of time is reckoned shall be excluded in making the reckoning.

Based on GCL Section 20, the original date of filing of a lien, or the date of filing of its extension, is excluded in making the reckoning to calculate the one year period to extend a lien under Lien Law Section 17.

Using this method of calculation, the date of the filing of Lienor's mechanic's lien extension, i.e., May 4, 2010, is excluded as being counted in the reckoning of the one year time period under Lien Law Section 17. Thus, the counting of the year began on May 5, 2010 and the one year time period to extend the lien under Lien Law Section 17 continued through May 4, 2011. Accordingly, Lienor's filing for an extension of the mechanic's lien on May 4, 2011 was made on the last permissible day and was within the one year period allowed under Lien Law Section 17.

The better practice is of course not to wait till the last minute especially, on a lien of over half a million dollars.

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