Lienability of Maintenance Work

Lienablity of Maintenance Work

In the case of Calder Brothers Co. v. Anderson, 642 P.2d 922 (Utah 1982), the Utah Supreme Court recognized that work is not lienable when it is ordinary maintenance.  There, the removal of two trees, cutting of grass and filling of grout in cracks was considered to be unalienable maintenance.

While there is not a substantial amount of case law developing the boundaries of maintenance vs. regular work, a recent example is the case of is All Clean, Inc. v. Timberline Properties, 264 P.3d 244 (Utah Ct. App. 2011).  There, the Court of Appeals noted that minor repairs such as the extraction of water from a flood, drying of carpets, blocking of furniture and spreading of anti-microbial agents, which did not implicate changes to any physical aspects of the structure, were not lienable because they were more in line with maintenance then with actual repair. 

Indeed, the 2011 amendments to the Utah Mechanic’s Lien Statute specifically recognize that lien rights belong to those who are involved of the repair of an improvement.  Thus, in determining whether or not work is maintenance as opposed to repair, it is important to look at the facts and circumstances under which the work is done. 

If the improvement is damaged or degraded in some way which requires work to return it to an operating or functioning condition, that is probably a lienable repair.  However, if the work in question is done to prevent the damage or degradation to the improvement then it is probably unlienable.  As we move forward under the new law, the courts will no doubt be required to more precisely define the boundaries of repair and maintenance.