Massachusetts law about mechanics' liens

A compilation of laws, cases and web sources on mechanics' lien law by the Trial Court Law Libraries.

A builder, contractor, or subcontractor can record a mechanic's lien at a Registry of Deeds on property (not automobiles) for which they have supplied labor and/or materials in order to secure payment for their work.

If you are unable to find the information you are looking for, or if you have a specific question, please contact our law librarians for assistance.

Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.254 Liens on buildings and land

Federal laws

12 USC 1701j-3 Real property loans, due-on-sale clauses, liens subordinate to security interests

12 USC 2615 Contracts and liens; validity


Sample documents provided by Sauer & Sauer Construction Law:

Selected case law

Blount Bros. Corp. v. Mondev Mass., Inc., 22 Mass. App. Ct. 96 (1986), affirmed, Blount Bros. Corp. v. Lafayette Place Assoc., 399 Mass. 632 (1987)
If the date in notices does not correspond to the date in a contract (or informal extensions of a contract), no lien attaches.

City Electric Supply Co. v. Arch Insurance Co., 481 Mass. 784 (2019)
A "target lien bond" dissolves a mechanic's lien that already has attached to a property. This case explains what is needed to enforce a target lien bond.

East Coast Steel Erectors v. Ciolfi, 417 Mass. 602 (1994)
A valid lien was established by a notice of contract in which the contractor specified an estimated completion date, none being set forth in the contract, to which the owner did not object within five days of notice.

J & W Wall Systems, Inc., v. Shawmut First Bank & Trust Company, 413 Mass. 42 (1992)
A bank that took a deed in lieu of foreclosure was held to be a "purchaser" under M.G.L. 254 sec. 7, entitled to priority over a notice of lien recorded shortly after the deed.

Mammoet USA, Inc. v. Entergy Nuclear Generation Co., 64 Mass.App.Ct. 37 (2005)
Subcontractor's transportation and delivery charges for shipment of large equipment are not subject to contractor's lien as the equipment did not constitute an "improvement of real property."

National Lumber Co. v. United Casualty and Surety Insurance Company, Inc., et al., 440 Mass. 723 (2004)
A mechanic's lien recorded pursuant to G. L. c. 254, § 4, does not include contractual interest and attorney's fees incurred in enforcing the lien.

Tremont Tower Condominium LLC v. George B.H. Macomber Co., 436 Mass. 677 (2002)
Clarifies when the right to a mechanics' lien arises, and concludes "the voluntary dissolution of a mechanic's lien under G. L. c. 254, 10, does not prevent a contractor's later recording of another timely notice of contract."

Volpe Construction Co. v. First National Bank of Boston, 30 Mass. App. Ct. 249 (1991)
Lien is automatically dissolved if action to enforce is not begun within required period from filing of statement.

Waverly Coop. Bank v. Haner, 273 Mass. 477 (1930)
Liens do not have a priority over a mortgage unless the work was actually begun prior to the recording of the mortgage.

Web sources

Massachusetts’ Mechanics’ Lien Law as of 2012, Sauer, Jonathan P. 
Discusses new concepts and forms under the amended statute as well as putting a mechanics' lien on the common areas of condominiums.

Massachusetts Mechanic's Lien Law summary of requirements, Worcester Registry of Deeds.
Handy chart that outlines requirements by party.

The New Massachusetts Mechanics' Lien Law, Sauer, Jonathan P., 1996.
"In order to understand the changes in the lien law, it is necessary to recite the basic tenets of the existing law. Thereafter, we will extensively comment on the changes brought about by the new lien law and will suggest forms for complying with the same." Provides a good outline of how the law works, and the forms that need to be filed.

Print sources

Handbook of standards and forms, Real Estate Bar Association for Massachusetts, 2004. Standards 62, 63, 64.

Lien law and prompt pay update, MCLE, 2011.

Massachusetts construction law and litigation, 2nd ed., MCLE, loose-leaf. Chapter 5. 

Massachusetts construction law: Mechanics liens, payments and disputes, Lorman, 2014.

Massachusetts conveyancers' handbook with forms, by Edward C. Mendler. West Group, with supplement. Sec. 6:22 and 9:8.

Massachusetts Practice Series:

Massachusetts real estate liens, 2nd ed., MCLE, loose-leaf, Chapter 3

"The Mechanic's Lien - Are You Protected?," 48 New Eng. L. Rev. 579 (2014).


Last updated: October 28, 2022