What Is A Coop, For Lien Purposes?

Written By: Randy J. Heller


Many folks know that different rules apply to private vs. public improvement mechanic’s liens. A lesser-known fact is that even within the realm of private improvement liens, different timetables apply whether it is a commercial property or multiple dwelling, or single-family residence.

Lien Law Section 10(1) provides that a contractor has “eight months after the completion of the contract, or the final performance of the work … dating from the last item of work performed or materials furnished” to get the lien filed, otherwise it is untimely and void. But section 10(1) goes on to state: “provided, however, that where the improvement is related to real property improved or to be improved with a single-family dwelling, the notice of lien may be filed ... within four months ... from the last item of work performed or materials furnished.”

Even if one knows of this distinction, what is a coop unit? Is it a single-family residence? Or is it considered part of the high-rise multiple dwelling in which it sits?

Judge Robert D. Kalish of New York Supreme Court recently tackled this issue in a case involving the renovation of a coop on Green Street in Manhattan. The lienor filed its lien against “Apt. 5S” and stated on the face of the lien that the last day of work was within 8 months of the date of the lien. However, it was just as clear from the face of the lien that the last day of work was more than 4 months before the lien was dated and filed. 

Judge Kalish allowed the defendant to supplement the record with a data sheet from the NYC Department of Finance indicating that that Apt. 5S was a “single residential coop unit.” Although the contractor argued that the building was a “commercial construction project,” the court held that the coop was a single-family residence and that the 4-month deadline applied. Therefore, he vacated the lien and the contractor was out of luck.

Note to self: coop apartments are single-family residences regardless of the number of units in the building, and the 4-month deadline for filing liens applies.

Read more articles authored by attorneys in our Construction Law Practice or continue browsing the Construction Law Blog.

Further information on mechanic's liens can be found on our blog: 

Liening for Pre-Construction Services? Yes and No.
Another Mechanic's Lien Bites the Dust
What Can You Lien For? And What Not?
You Must Renew a Bonded Lien, Or Else
Willful Exaggeration of a Mechanic's Lien - Only Established at Trial
Filing a Mechanic's Lien. Again. And Again.

about the authors

Randy J. Heller


For over forty years, Mr. Heller has specialized in construction law and litigation, representing some of the largest and most successful contractors in the nation.

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