Who pays contractor when renter skips out?

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Q: We rent a single-family house to tenants who have been there for several years. We gave them permission to build a new backyard fence and do some landscaping; they agreed to pay for it. The work was done and finished a month ago, and now we’ve received a letter from the builder, saying that unless he gets paid, he’ll slap a lien on our property! To make matters worse, the tenants moved out in the middle of the night and are long gone. –Mike L.

A: The builder is threatening you with a mechanics’ lien, which is a legal remedy used by general contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers to get paid for work they’ve completed or materials they’ve supplied. If the workers follow the required steps and you still don’t pay, they can force a sale of your home and collect what they are owed from the proceeds.