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Yet More Lien Law – Owner-Occupant Exception Means What it Says

Arizona lien law continues to grow, this time regarding A.R.S. 33-1002(B), the owner-occupant exception. In Marco Crane & Rigging, Co. v. Masaryk, the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One, explained that § 33-1002(B) excludes mechanic’s liens from attaching to properties “of a person who became an owner-occupant prior to the construction, alteration, repair or improvement, except by a person having executed in writing a contract directly with the owner-occupant.” “Owner-occupant” means that the owner holds recorded legal title to the dwelling before construction or improvement commences and resides or intend to reside in the dwelling for 30 days during the twelve-month period following the construction or improvement.  The relevant time under the statute is when the lien is recorded.

In a case that never should have gone beyond the trial court stage (meaning the trial court simply got it wrong), the Court determined that Masaryk was an “owner-occupant” because she held recorded title to the property when Marco Crane recorded its lien, having had title in her name for years and having lived in the home for over one year after completion.  Unfortunately, the Court did not discuss Marco Crane’s argument regarding Masaryk’s transfer of the title to her limited liability company because the validity of the lien hinged on whether Masaryk was an “owner-occupant” at the time Crane recorded its lien in 2008.  Nevertheless, it is interesting that the trial court found it necessary to rule agasint Masaryk, especially where the Court of Appeals had no trouble quickly applying the statute to the facts and overruling the trial court.

The lawyers at MKC Law have experience in dealing with this issue and those that arise under Arizona’s mechanic’s lien statutes.