As a result of the passage of SB 371, effective January 1, 2013, the services provided by licensed architects, licensed landscape architects, licensed engineers, permitted septic designers, certified wetland scientists, certified soil scientists and licensed land surveyors fall within the scope of the New Hampshire Mechanic’s Lien Statute, RSA 447:1 et seq. Thus, the services of these specific design professionals are entitled to the attachment power of this statute if they are “directly related to the improvement of real property”. See, RSA 447:2, II.
This means that if, for example, a licensed land surveyor performs a survey for a business owner associated with a site plan application for a new warehouse on the owner’s property, the surveyor has a statutory lien on that subject property that must be “perfected” under the Statute by filing suit in the Superior Court for the County in which the property is located within 120 days of completion of the surveyor’s work. Of course, that completion date is a question of fact; but if suit is timely filed, the lien attaches to the subject property and must be addressed by the owner – either through a defense of such suit or a pay-off of the designer. As with any mechanic’s lien, if the professional designer is successful in her suit, the lien can be executed upon by way of a sheriff’s sale. Depending upon the timing of any other mortgages or liens on the subject property, the mechanic’s lien can “jump ahead” of another lien or mortgage filed against the property during the 120 day window.
Note also that SB 371 added these rights to professional designers working for the State and any of its political subdivisions; but the perfection window in such “public contracts” is 90 days rather than 120 days.
To confirm whether a professional designer is duly licensed and thereby protected by this amendment, check the website of the New Hampshire Joint Board of Licensure and Certification at www.nh.gov/jtboard/home.htm.
For more information, please contact Chris at our Meredith office via 603-279-4158 or our website at dtclawyers.com.