Academic journal article The University of Memphis Law Review

Lien on Me: An In-Depth Analysis of Tennessee's Mechanics' Lien Statute with Regard to Real Property

Academic journal article The University of Memphis Law Review

Lien on Me: An In-Depth Analysis of Tennessee's Mechanics' Lien Statute with Regard to Real Property

Article excerpt


Title 66, Chapter 11 of the Tennessee Code outlines Tennessee's statutory mechanism for mechanics' and materialmen's liens.1 Over decades, the statute has developed into a complicated scheme that, in some instances, is so confusing as to leave many lawyers faced with this daunting question: Have I missed a deadline and committed malpractice?

In order to provide a guide through this statutory labyrinth, this Note will focus on analyzing sections 66-11-101 through -146 of the Tennessee Code, paying particular attention to common situations that practitioners will face. Several sections of the mechanics' lien statute have been excluded; thus, if a situation involves one of the excluded sections, reference should be made to that particular section as part of the overall scheme for filing a

mechanics' lien.2 The following sections have been omitted:

1. 66-11-123 Transfer of debt by contractor;

2. 66-11-127 Suits against personal representatives;

3. 66-11-128 Enforcement against persons under disability;

4. 66-11-129 Right of removal from lands of persons under disability;

5. 66-11-133 Adjustment of conflicting rights;

6. 66-11-141 Well-drilling lien; and

7. 66-11-144 Portion of contract price held in escrow.

The excluded sections were omitted because they involve particular situations that do not arise often and are explained by referencing the applicable sections. Further, this Note will not discuss the claim of quantum meruit.3

This Note is divided into eight segments. The first section defines and distinguishes between a direct and indirect lien. The next segment is an overview of important questions that should be raised in order to effectively navigate both this Note and the mechanics' lien statutes. The third section contains a brief history behind mechanics' liens. The fourth part of this Note outlines the public policy considerations supporting the mechanics' lien statute. The fifth segment provides definitions for certain terms that are pivotal to the understanding and comprehension of the mechanics' lien statute. The next portion will focus on the statutory requirements that must be satisfied for a direct lien to be enforced. The seventh part will focus on an indirect mechanics' lien. The eighth section focuses on provisions of the mechanics' lien statute that are applicable to both direct and indirect liens.


Tennessee's statutory framework is broken into two categories: direct lien holders and indirect lien holders. A direct lien occurs when a lienor has a direct contract with the property

owner. Conversely, claimants who do not have a direct contract with the owner of the improved property are considered indirect lien holders.5 Hence, the thrust of the mechanics' lien statute centers on the contract relationship, or lack thereof, between the aggrieved party and the property owner.6


The focus of this Note is to provide in-depth coverage of Tennessee's mechanics' lien statutory scheme. It is important, however, to provide a brief overview of significant issues that practioners must address when filing a mechanics' lien. …

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