Contractors take legal action to get paid

By Adam Pincus | December 22, 2008 04:34PM

As credit remains tight for the construction industry, building contractors in Manhattan are increasingly resorting to legal action to get compensated.

Building trades firms filed twice as many liens against Manhattan properties undergoing construction last month as they did during the same month in 2007.

There were 398 mechanic’s liens filed in November compared with 198 filed in November last year, according to the office of the county clerk for New York County.

For the first time in at least four years, the average number of liens filed each month grew, after declining from 2005 to 2007.

Through November this year, there was an average of 290 liens filed each month compared with an average of 221 per month in all of 2007; 243 in 2006; and 266 in 2005, the data showed.

Adam Myers, vice president of New York Liens, a private firm based in Floral Park, LI, that files liens of behalf of clients, said his firm had seen a steady increase in filings in recent months.

“The economy has been tough and people have not been paid,” he said.

Contractors who have not been paid file mechanic’s liens in order to make a public claim for what they believe is owed for work performed on a construction job.

The New York county clerk’s office counted each lien filed on private property in Manhattan irrespective of building class.  

The Real Deal
reported earlier this month that the total number of liens in New York City nearly doubled from 2006 to late 2008. That data, from real estate analysis firm, included private property excluding one- and two-family houses

Contractors are filing liens on a wide range of developments, including several delayed hotel projects.

The VU, being developed by Horizen Global
at 653 11th Avenue, was originally planned to open in April, but was pushed back to early 2009, according to the hotel’s Web site.

Besin Malota, vice president of Malota Plumbing in the Bronx, said his firm is still owed $19,000 for a job he completed on the West Side project.  

“We did the job, everything was done, and we have not been paid,” he said. His company filed a lien against the VU on December 17.

Two liens were filed this month against Moinian Group’s W hotel project at 123 Washington Street in the Financial District. Construction consultant Jekmar Associates, based in Midtown, filed a lien for $137,500 on the property, and Waterproofing Systems Northeast in Lebanon, NJ filed one for $83,486. The project was originally planned to be completed in the spring of 2008, but now is likely to open in early 2010, according to Smith Travel Research.

Horizen Global and the Moinian Group did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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