House Approves Killion Homeowner, Consumer Protection Bill
HARRISBURG – Rep. Thomas Killion (R-Delaware/Chester) announced today that the House passed his legislation to protect homeowners and consumers from having liens placed on their homes by subcontractors and suppliers because they were not paid by a general contractor or homebuilder.
Unsuspecting homeowners all across Pennsylvania have had mechanics’ liens placed on their homes by suppliers and subcontractors who were never paid by a general contractor for their goods and services. To remove the lien, homeowners are forced to pay again for expenses they already paid – either to the homebuilder who constructed the home or to the general contractor for home improvements.
“Homeowners should not be held responsible when a contractor they hire and pay to do work fails to pay their subcontractors and suppliers,” said Killion. “This practice is inherently unfair to consumers who have already paid once to have work done. I believe subcontractors and suppliers have every right to collect money owed them for work they performed, but they need to collect it from the contractor who hired them, not unsuspecting, innocent consumers.”
The legislation will also help subcontractors to receive payment for their services because homeowners will know which subcontractors worked on their property before the homeowner makes a final payment to the general contractor or builder.
In 2009, a number of homeowners in Royersford, Pennsylvania, and other communities, who purchased homes built by TH Properties, found themselves faced with mechanics’ liens against their newly constructed homes when the homebuilder subsequently declared bankruptcy. Although the homeowners had already purchased their properties, subcontractors, who were not paid by the builder for work performed, filed liens against the homes. To remove the liens, homeowners were faced with the prospect of having to pay the subcontractors for services that were already included in the purchase price of the property, but were not paid by the homebuilder or general contractor, as is customary.
In January 2012, 17 property owners in Westmoreland County had mechanics’ liens placed against their properties. One homeowner had a $3,500 lien against his property when a roofing contractor, who was repairing storm-damaged roofs, failed to pay his supplier. These mechanics’ liens, if unpaid, can impact the ability of a homeowner to sell their property or obtain service or repairs for items covered under a home warranty.
“Unfortunately, there are consumers who have had to deal with the aftermath of mechanics’ liens placed on their property through no fault of their own,” said Killion. “These reforms are needed to protect our consumers and homeowners.”
While efforts to reform the mechanics’ lien process have been proposed in prior years, today’s action marks the first time the consumer protection legislation has been approved by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. The legislation must now be acted on by the Pennsylvania Senate.
The legislation has the strong support of the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors.
“Homeowners who have purchased a newly constructed home and those homeowners who hire a contractor for remodeling should be protected from unfair mechanic's liens being filed that result in a ‘double payment’ by the consumer,” said Greg Herb, chairman of the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors Legislative Committee. “Current law is clearly deficient and homeowners, affected by a lien, may not be able to refinance their home or may have trouble selling the property. This consumer protection bill is much-needed and we applaud Representative Killion for his leadership on this issue.”
State Representative Thomas Killion
168th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Donna Pinkham