Monday, May 20, 2002

Little-known Ohio lien law could help some owners

By Ken Alltucker
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        An obscure Ohio law offers some protection to consumers who are forced to fight for ownership of their homes because of a builder's financial trouble.

        Two years ago, Pierce Township resident Bill Siepel found himself in a similar situation that many Erpenbeck homeowners now face.

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        He said he paid for his new home, but contractors filed mechanics liens on the property because they were not paid by the builder, Cambridge Homes.

        A section of Ohio law allows homeowners, under certain circumstances, to force contractors to remove liens.

        As long as a homeowner legiti mately purchases a home from a builder before any liens are filed, the homeowners are not responsible for the builder's unpaid bills.

        The homeowners must file an affidavit with the county recorder's office. If the subcontractor fails to remove the lien within 30 days, the homeowner can file a lawsuit seeking damages.

        Mr. Siepel said subcontractors eventually removed the liens from his home after several phone calls and letters from his lawyer.

        “I realized it was just a matter of perseverance to get rid of them (liens),” Mr. Siepel said.

        The law won't be useful to all Erpenbeck homeowners. It excludes unpaid construction loans financed by banks. Also, the home must be lien-free at the time of purchase.


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