Ensuring that your filed mechanic’s lien is served within the required time limit is extremely important because it could be the deciding factor between whether it is considered a valid or invalid document.
Pennsylvania statutes regarding liens detail very specific methods of serving an owner of property that has a lien attached. It must be served by the county sheriff, and an affidavit of service has to be filed with the county’s prothonotary. The service and affidavit filing must be completed within 30 days after the lien document’s filing date. After the 30-day window closes, the sheriff cannot serve the document.
If a claimant misses the original deadline, however, Pennsylvania law provides a second chance to complete proper service. The lien claimant can file a praecipe to initiate reinstatement. According to United States law, a praecipe is a legal document that either commands the defendant to appear in court and show just cause why an act should not be done, or it requests the court clerk to issue a writ and specify the contents.
This legal document basically extends the lien service window by 30 additional days after the filing date by using the prothonotary to reissue the document. After the original lien is reissued by the clerk, it can be re-sent to the Sheriff to be served.
Missing the 30-day deadline is not the only use for a praecipe. It can also be used if the owner’s address changes following the lien filing, in which case the lien can be re-served at the new address.
Lienitnow files this praecipe document on behalf of clients who are concerned the owner didn’t receive the original lien and who want the lien to be served to an alternate address. It has been our experience that the majority of states provide a service deadline longer than 30 days and do not require a county agency for process service.
While Pennsylvania’s mechanic’s lien requirements may be more intricate than other states, the praecipe for reinstatement provides a safety net so claimants can properly serve the documents.