The Illinois Commercial Real Estate Broker’s Lien Statute: A Top 10 List
The Illinois Commercial Real Estate Broker’s Lien Act, 770 ILCS 15/1 (the “Act”), provides a broker whose owed commission money with a strong remedy against a breaching property owner, buyer or tenant. Here are some of the Act’s key provisions:
1. What It Applies To:
“Commercial real estate.” This is defined as any real estate in Illinois other than (i) real estate containing one to 6 residential units, (ii) real estate on which no buildings or structures are located, or (iii) real estate classified as farmland under the Property Tax Code. 770 ILCS 15/15
2. What It Doesn’t Apply To:
Real estate that isn’t “commercial”, including single family residential units like condominiums, townhouses, or homes in a subdivision when sold, leased, or otherwise conveyed on a unit by unit basis even though these units may be part of a larger building or parcel of real estate containing more than 6 residential units.
3. Is Written Agreement Required? Yes. 770 ILCS 15/10.
4. When Does it Attach?: The lien attaches upon (1) the broker being entitled to a fee or commission under a written instrument signed by the owner, buyer, tenant (or their agent); and (2) the broker recording a notice of lien in the Recorder’s Office of the county where the commercial real estate is located.
5. Does it Relate Back? No. The lien does not relate back to the date of contract between broker and owner (or buyer or tenant). 770 ILCS 15/10.
6. Timing/When To Record: In the case of a lease, the lien must be recorded within 90 days after the tenant takes possession of the premises, Exception: if broker is given written notice of the planned lease signing at least 10 days before the intended signing date, the lien claim must be recorded before the lease signing date.
For a purchase, the lien attaches upon the prospective buyer accepting a transfer of the property. The broker has 10 days of recording its notice of lien to mail a copy of the notice to the owner of the property by registered or certified mail, with return receipt requested, or to personally serve the notice on the owner. The broker’s lien shall be unenforceable if mailing of the copy of the notice of lien recording does not occur at the time and in the manner required by this Act. 770 ILCS 15/15.
7. How to Enforce the Lien: The broker enforces the lien by filing suit to foreclose it. The broker must sue in the Circuit Court for the county where the property is located by filing a complaint and sworn affidavit that the lien has been recorded. The lawsuit must be filed within 2 years after recording the lien.
8. Contents of the Lien Notice: The lien notice shall state the name of the claimant, name of the owner, a description of the property upon which the lien is being claimed, the amount for which the lien is claimed, and the real estate license number of the broker.
9. Q: Can the Liening Broker Recover Her Attorneys’ Fees? A: Yes. The losing party must pay the winning party’s attorneys’ fees, costs, and prejudgment interest.
10. Q: What About Priority? A: Prior recorded liens and mortgages against the property shall have priority over a broker’s lien. 770 ILCS 15/15. These prior recorded liens include mechanics liens recorded after the broker’s lien notice but which relates back to a date prior to the lien recording date and prior recorded liens securing revolving credit and future advances of construction loans as described in Section 15-1302 of the Mortgage Foreclosure Statute.