Can my ex-boyfriend put a lien on my home for labor that he put into it?

My boyfriend and I just broke up last week and he is now causing problems. I recently bought a fixer-upper home which allowed for me to do some of the re-building myself. My boyfriend willingly helped me with some of the work saying it was a favor so we could build a family together and that my house was just for me. He has a had a life-time of domestic violence charges on him, including me there has been a history of abuse. He demanded me to write

him check or he was going to hurt me. I wrote a fake check with a fake signature so the bank could tell it was forced. They marked it as stolen as soon as they heard he threatened me. There was never a contract nor is he a licensed construction worker. The check did not state that it was for services. All of the material and tools were bought by me. Now that we broke up my ex-boyfriend is trying to tell me that he is going to put a lien on my home for the labor he put into the home? Can he do this? I am trying to sell the home for the exact amount that it is worth. Can he really get a lien on the home since he agreed to help me for free? The check was written 5 months ago. Can he wait that long to file a lien?

Asked on May 17, 2016 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, only an actual licensed contractor can directly put a contractor's lien on a home. What he can do is sue you, however, if there was an agreement that you would pay him for his labor and you don't pay. However, if he had done the work as a gift, he is not entitled to money--only if there had been agreement that he'd be paid. Of course, he can lie and claim there was an agreement even when there was not: if he is willing to do that and sues, you can fight or defend on the basis that no, the labor was a gift. In that case, it will come down to who is personally more credible or believable; whose story makes more sense in the context of the facts and relationship at that time; who has more and more believable witnesses supporting him or her; and whether there is any documentation, including emails or text messages, supporting either him or her.

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