To introduce the concept of a ďmechanicís lien,Ē the phrase ďlienĒ requires a bit of history. Donít worry, weíll try to wrap up that lesson before you fall asleep. Quite simply, the word ďlienĒ dates from centuries ago and from other languages - its French root refers to a ďlink.Ē So think of the word that way and it should make a lot of sense.
But what is a ďmechanicís lienĒ exactly? Well, look at it this way: if you have a car that needs to be repaired, and you take it to a mechanic, that mechanic might use parts and labor in order to make sure the problem is fixed. Until you pay the mechanic for the parts and labor rendered, that mechanic actually has a lien interest in your car - a link to the carís ownership. If you were to sell the car before the repairs were paid for, then that ďmechanicís lien,Ē or mechanicís link to the car would still not be disconnected. Not until the payments are made.
This is a way for any honest laborer who performs honest work to make sure theyíre paid without being, in a word, ďscrewedĒ by the person whoís supposed to be paying for that work. For example, consider how easy it would be for a mechanic to be ďgippedĒ out of their money because someone sold the car that had recently gotten repairs on it. Without the ďlienĒ law in place, these mechanics wouldnít be able to collect on the repairs after that, because the original owner of the car could skip town. Thatís not a way to handle business.
Thatís why a mechanicís lien - and there are other liens available to a number of working professionals, such as construction professionals and artisans - is so important to the law and so important for mechanics to know theyíll get paid for the work they do. And since they do the work before getting paid, itís important for mechanics to have some sort of assurance that theyíre able to collect on these debts.
The concept of ďlienĒ is actually more prevalent in our society than you might have thought. In many states, real estate lenders actually retain ďlienĒ on a property until the mortgage loan is paid off in full - this is a way of ensuring that the borrower has a vested interest in completing the entire loan as was written. Itís not uncommon for lenders to retain lien on other types of property and assets for similar reasons.
In a way, mechanics ďloanĒ out wealth by taking care of a car and even replacing parts. They expect to be paid fairly for these services, but when theyíre not, that ďlienĒ kicks in and they can claim ownership to the work theyíve done. Itís a way to keep things honest for skilled laborers that need to be paid for their work.