2007 Regular Session
To: Judiciary B
By: Representative Mayo
AN ACT TO PROVIDE THAT A HOMEOWNER WHO HAS PAID A CONTRACTOR SHALL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIMS BY A SUBCONTRACTOR OF THE CONTRACTOR; TO AMEND SECTIONS 85-7-131, 85-7-135 AND 85-7-181, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, IN CONFORMITY THERETO; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. A homeowner who has paid the contractor for any construction to his home or other structure shall have no liability for any amount owed to a subcontractor by a contractor. A subcontractor may only make a claim for any amount owed to such subcontractor against the contractor.
SECTION 2. Section 85-7-131, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
85-7-131. Except as provided by Section 1 of this act, every house, building, water well or structure of any kind, and any fixed machinery, gearing or other fixture that may or may not be used or connected therewith, railroad embankment, erected, constructed, altered or repaired, and every subdivision of property or subdivided property which required services, designs or construction in designing or laying out of streets or subdividing or construction of streets, sewerage, water or other utilities to be furnished by the said subdivision or by the various owners or holders or creators of said subdivision or subdivided property or individual lot or lots in connection therewith, whether inside of a municipality or outside thereof, shall be liable for the debt contracted and owing, for labor done or materials furnished, or architectural engineers' and surveyors' or contractors' service rendered about the erection, construction, alteration or repairs thereof; and debt for such services or construction shall be a lien thereon. The architects, engineers, surveyors, laborers, and materialmen and/or contractors who rendered services and constructed the improvements shall have a lien therefor. Further, as to oil and gas wells, the operator thereof shall have such a lien upon the interest of each nonoperator owner of an interest in the mineral leasehold estate for such nonoperator's proportionate part of such labor, material and services rendered by the operator or for the operator's account in behalf of each nonoperator in the drilling, completion, recompletion, reworking or other operations of such oil and gas well. If such house, building, structure, or fixture be in a city, town or village, the lien shall extend to and cover the entire lot of land on which it stands and the entire curtilage thereto belonging; or, if not in a city, town or village, the lien shall extend to and cover one (1) acre of land on which the same may stand, if there be so much, to be selected by the holder of the lien. If the structure be a water well, the lien shall extend only to all pumps, pipes, equipment therein and all water well appurtenances. If the structure be an oil or gas well, the lien shall extend to the nonoperator's interest in the mineral estate and the fixtures and equipment in the producing unit assigned such well by the State Oil and Gas Board. If the structure be a railroad or railroad embankment, the lien shall extend to and cover the entire roadbed and right-of-way, depots and other buildings used or connected therewith. If the services of the architect, surveyor, engineer, laborers, materialmen or of the contractors shall be upon the whole subdivision, the lien shall extend to and cover the entire subdivision; but if a part only of the land is subdivided and laborers', materialmen's, architects', surveyors' or engineers' services are required and contractors are employed, then the lien shall extend to only that portion of said property upon which the services were required or upon which or in connection with which the work was done or the materials were furnished. Such lien shall take effect as to purchasers or encumbrancers for a valuable consideration without notice thereof, only from the time of commencing suit to enforce the lien, or from the time of filing the contract under which the lien arose, or notice thereof, in the office of the clerk of the chancery court, as hereinafter stated; delivery of material to the job is prima facie evidence of its use therein, and use of water from a water well is prima facie evidence of acceptability of the well. In the case of oil and gas wells, such lien shall take effect as to purchasers or encumbrancers for a valuable consideration without notice thereof, only from the time of filing notice of such lien as provided by Section 85-7-133.
SECTION 3. Section 85-7-135, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
85-7-135. Except as provided in Section 1 of this act, the lien declared in Section 85-7-131 shall exist only in favor of the person employed, or with whom the contract is made to perform such labor or furnish such materials or render such architectural service, and his assigns, and when the contract or employment is made by the owner, or by his agent, representative, guardian or tenant authorized, either expressly or impliedly, by the owner.
SECTION 4. Section 85-7-181, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
85-7-181. Except as provided in Section 1 of this act, when any contractor or master workman shall not pay any person who may have furnished materials used in the erection, construction, alteration, or repair of any house, building, structure, fixture, boat, water craft, railroad, railroad embankment, the amount due by him to any subcontractor therein, or the wages of any journeyman or laborer employed by him therein, any such person, subcontractor, journeyman or laborer may give notice in writing to the owner thereof of the amount due him and claim the benefit of this section; and, thereupon the amount that may be due upon the date of the service of such notice by such owner to the contractor or master workman, shall be bound in the hands of such owner for the payment in full, or if insufficient then pro rata, of all sums due such person, subcontractor, journeyman or laborer who might lawfully have given notice in writing to the owner hereunder, and if after such notice, the contractor or master workman shall bring suit against the owner, the latter may pay into court, the amount due on the contract; and thereupon all persons entitled hereunder, so far as known, shall be made parties and summoned into court to protect their rights, contest the demands of such contractor or master workman and other claimants; and the court shall cause an issue to be made up and tried and direct the payment of the amount found due in accordance with the provisions hereof; or in case any person entitled to the benefits hereof, shall sue the contractor or master workman, such person so suing shall make the owner and all other persons interested, either as contractors, master workmen, subcontractors, laborers, journeymen or materialmen, so far as known, parties to the suit (and any such party not made a party in any suit hereunder authorized may intervene by petition), and, thereupon the owner may pay into the court the amount admitted to be due on the contract or sufficient to pay the sums claimed, and the court shall cause an issue to be made up and award the same to the person lawfully entitled; in either case the owner shall not be liable for costs; but if the owner, when sued, with the contractor or master workman, shall deny any indebtedness sufficient to satisfy the sums claimed and all costs, the court shall, at the instance of any party interested, cause an issue to be made up to ascertain the true amount of such indebtedness and shall give judgment and award costs, and reasonable attorney's fees, according to the rights of the several parties in accordance herewith. In case judgment shall be given against such owner, such judgment shall be a lien, from the date of the original notice, and shall be enforced as other liens provided in this chapter. The owner shall not be liable in any event for a greater amount than the amount contracted for with the contractor.
The provisions of this section allowing the award of attorney's fees shall only apply to actions the cause of which accrued on or after July 1, 1987.
SECTION 5. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.