The contractor owns your house

The contractor owns your house

“Contractor plasterer” TAFE SA TONSLEY is licensed under CC BY 2.0

by Darrell Jennings

We all know that if we don’t pay that bill the mechanic won’t give us back our car and the repair shop won’t give us back our toaster. They will hold it and then, after a time, sell it to recover their expense. Most people understand this process and its relationship to relevant Ontario legislation.

What many don’t seem to realize is that those rights apply to any person or company who supplies things to, or makes any improvement on, your property. They have a legal right against the ownership of your property the moment they enter it or deliver supplies to you and, in some cases, the moment you sign a contract. So in legal fact, that guy under your sink actually does own your home, at least in part.

Here’s some Ontario history. In the late 1800s the term “mechanical arts” referred to all manner of blue-collar workers, including typographers. In 1872 the Toronto Typographical Union went on strike for a nine-hour workday. Many were imprisoned as union activities were illegal. This strike, though unsuccessful, laid a foundation for the Canadian labour movement. In 1873, the Mechanic Liens Act was passed giving even the lowest worker meaningful security to get paid.  It also spelled out how many different persons, or classes, could have a claim against the same property or article at the same time. That law evolved into what we know as the Construction Liens Act, recently amended in May 2017 to become the new Construction Act.  

A lien is a claim upon the property of another person to ensure payment.

Read the rest of the story with your copy of The Point coming in February.

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