“Authorities on Tuesday arrested a 45-year-old homebuilder accused of failing to pay more than 30 subcontractors more than $528,000 on four homebuilding projects in the Baton Rouge area in 2012, according to arrest warrants,” reports the Baton Rouge Advocate (“BR home builder booked on felony theft, misapplication of payments

”). The warrants say Quinn Martin acknowledged to his clients and subcontractors that money and additional work were owed but said he did not have the money and did not offer further explanation.

Liens are a powerful tool in the hands of a trade contractor. Laws vary from state to state, but typically allow unpaid subcontractors to hold homeowners liable for bills left unpaid by a prime contractor. A lien limits the owner’s ability to sell the asset, because satisfying the lien can take precedence over compensation to the owner for sale of the property. More discussion of lien rights and processes can be found at the website of Louisiana attorney Scott Wolfe Jr., whose firm Zlien, Inc., specializes in lien-related issues. Wolfe typically represents parties attempting to file or enforce a lien, but he has also written about ways to contest liens (see “How to Challenge an Improperly Filed Construction Lien,” by Scott Wolfe Jr.).