Wisconsin lien law is a collection tool to “provide protection for [contractors, subcontractors and suppliers] who improve the property of others by furnishing materials or labor." In many cases, liens are a contractor’s best leverage in getting paid.
Wisconsin lien law provides an avenue for contractors to protect their collections by providing them with the ability to file a claim against the title of the property they have performed work on. Contractors can then foreclose on that lien if they’re not paid, ensuring they’re compensated for any remaining balance owed for materials and labor provided.
Lien procedures are extremely detailed and time sensitive. Although designed to offer protection, in practice, Wisconsin lien law is confusing and can be very difficult to navigate. Small mistakes or an incomplete knowledge of the law can jeopardize the valuable lien rights of contractors.
Contractors should understand that their written contracts, statements and invoices are key tactics in getting payment. Proper formats and language in your bills are essential as well.
We recently held the HNI University event, Wisconsin Lien Law & Collection Best Practices for Contractors, and went through what you need to be aware of to ensure that you’re fairly compensated for your work. At the event, Attorney Roy E. Wagner of von Briesen & Roper, s.c. covered things like:
- Who can be a lien claimant?
- Is there a difference in the types of projects that create different deadlines for filing liens?
- What are the typical lien mistakes and how do you avoid them?
- Are tenant improvements lienable?
- Recent changes to Wisconsin Lien Law to be aware of
- Best collection practices
Attorney Roy Wagner is the Chair of the Construction Law Section at von Briesen & Roper, s.c., a 100+ law firm based in Milwaukee and Madison. He is a former Chair of the State Bar of Wisconsin Construction Law Section, as well as the present Director of the same. Roy has presented to owners, design professionals and contractors relating to best construction practices, construction claims, litigation and risk avoidance.
In these tough economic times, contractors must use all of the tools in their toolboxes to collect their precious revenues. Make sure you know the state laws in place to protect you and how you can follow through with lien law collection practices.