Client Alert: SJC Confirms Limitations on COVID-19 Relief for Contractors

Construction contractors in Western Massachusetts often face situations in which the owner or developer fails to pay. Massachusetts law allows the unpaid contractors to place a “mechanic’s lien” on the property, which provides extra protection to ensure payment. To be entitled to relief under the statute, G.L. c. 254, et seq., contractors are required to record a notice of contract and statement of account in the local registry of deeds. In 2020, the Supreme Judicial Court issued emergency orders extending extra time for “all deadlines set forth in statutes,” which many assumed would apply to the deadlines in the mechanic’s lien law. Today, the SJC confirmed that this extra time does not apply to contractors seeking to record mechanic’s liens. Instead, the Court determined that COVID-19 relief orders will only extend to deadlines that impact “court operations”–leaving the unpaid contractor without a remedy. See Graycor Construction Company, Inc. v. Pacific Theatres Exhibition Corp., SJC-13142.

The laws that pertain to construction contractors can be complex. Contractors can protect themselves from the unexpected by having an attorney review their contracts in advance. If you need help with a legal issue regarding a residential or commercial contracting dispute, please give us a call to see if one of our attorneys can assist you.