Legal Articles

A Lien for Mechanics

By Tori Reese


It might be assumed by many that a “mechanic’s lien” would be a remedy in which a traditional mechanic would utilize to pursue unpaid claims on work they have performed. However, in Iowa this is not the case.

A person entitled to a mechanic’s lien, as defined by Iowa Code Chapter 572.2, is every person who furnishes any material or labor for any building or land for improvements, alterations, or repairs. Therefore, a mechanic’s lien would only be a legal remedy available to any owner-builder contracts, general contractors, subcontractors, and to those engaged in the following;

  • grading;

  • sodding;

  • installing nursery stock;

  • landscaping;

  • sidewalk building;

  • fencing on any land or lot;

As a result, what remedy do mechanics have in Iowa, if not for a mechanic’s lien? Such a remedy would be referred to as an “artisan’s lien.” While the servicers providing the service may be a mechanic, when a customer does not pay their bill, the servicer has the ability to acquire an artisan’s lien on the specified equipment, as long as said equipment remains in their possession. Stated another way, the servicer would be forfeiting their rights to an artisan lien if the equipment leaves the premises. By maintaining possession of the equipment, the servicer has now perfected their lien. Once such a lien has been perfected, the servicers have a few options on what they can do moving forward to recoup their costs. 

It is at this point that the knowledge of a competent attorney is necessary due to the intricacies of this type of lien. This is due to the fact that there can be multiple individuals who hold an interest in the equipment being withheld. It is important third-party rights are not being overlooked, as this could have significant consequences for the servicer and their business moving forward. 

If you have questions about artisan’s liens and how they can affect you and your business or wish to know more about these liens, please contact an attorney in your area.