Unjust Construction Liens Considered: House Advances Landowner Protection Bill
Friday, April 7, 2023

North Dakota lawmakers have advanced a bill that seeks to safeguard landowners from unjust lien filing for labor provided during pipeline and well pad construction.

If passed, SB 2311 would protect landowners who lease their property for oil and gas activity from construction liens filed by contractors in response to unjust compensation by project developers.

When a landowner leases property to an oil company to build a well pad or for pipeline construction, it is typically the developers that hire contractors and subcontractors to complete construction. Often, the landowner has no authority or control over the project other than the lease of their land.

Currently, if contractors believe they are unfairly paid, they can file liens on the landowner’s property whether or not the landowner has been involved in the project or payments. While there are protections in place to guard landowners against frivolous liens, the landowners are still responsible to hire an attorney and absorb any associated costs. 

The bill was introduced by District 23 Senator Todd Beard, who represents Williston and Trenton. Beard cited a recent example of such a lien being filed against a landowner in Williams County as the catalyst for the bill’s introduction. 

Click here to listen to Beard’s comments.

This week, the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee gave the bill a do pass recommendation after amending it to provide further clarification for those recording the liens while still protecting surface owner’s interests. The bill previously passed the Senate on a 35-11 vote and is headed to the House floor. 

Click here to view this article in the WDEA Weekly Newsletter