Owner have limited rights to summarily remove a mechanic’s lien of record. Typically, Owners achieve this result by posting a surety bond with the County Clerk where the lien was filed. Owners can also summarily remove a mechanic’s lien if it contains a facial defect such as listing the wrong owner, or if the affidavit of service of the lien is not properly filed. Other than in these limited circumstances, an owner can only remove a lien in the context of a lien foreclosure action.
Owners often complain that a contractor has filed a mechanic’s lien that, in the view of the Owner, is clearly excessive. The question then arises as to how the amount of the lien can be summarily reduced, without the necessity of engaging in motion practice and possibly a trial.
The First Department addressed this question in Pizzarotti, LLC v. FPG Maiden Lane LLC __ A.D.3d ___ 129 N.Y.S.3d 771(1st Dep’t 2020). The rules cited by the First Department apply equally to attempts by owners or contractors who seek to reduce lien claims. The bottom line is that there is a basically no device to summarily reduce the amount of a mechanic’s lien outside the confines of a mechanic’s lien foreclosure action.