Remodel snag could cost tenants their unit

Rent it Right

Q: We rent a single-family home that needs some work. We're going to hire and pay the contractors, and deduct the cost from the rent. Our written agreement with the landlord includes our promise that we not allow a "mechanic's lien" to be filed against the property (we lose our lease if that happens). What does this mean? --Jeb B. A: If you don't pay contractors or suppliers, they may place a lien against the landlord's property. A lien is a notice to lenders or buyers that the lienholder (the contractor) claims to be owed money for work done on the property. The lienholder will record the notice in the county land records office, and if the owner doesn't pay up, the lienholder can take the matter to court. If the lienholder wins, he can force a sale of the property to pay the debt. Even if the dispute underlying the lien is eventually settled out of court, its filing is a "cloud on the title" and will at the very least scare off any potential lender o...