Questions About Recording a Mechanic’s Lien

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BEARD HOBBS & ASSOCIATES
An Association Of Lawyers Not Including A  Partnership
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El Cajon, California 92021
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Beard Hobbs
beardhobbs@cox.net

Of Counsel
Adam Conzales
adam-gonzales@cox.net

Trial Practice With Emphasis In
Construction Law and Civil Business Litigation


QUESTIONS ABOUT RECORDING A MECHANIC’S LIEN

Question: Do I have the right to record a Mechanic’s Lien on someone’s property?

Answer: Mechanic’s, material suppliers, contractors, subcontractors, lessors of equipment, artisans, architects, registered engineers, licensed land surveyors, machinists, builders, teamsters, and draymen, and all persons and laborers of every class performing labor upon or bestowing skill or other necessary services on, or furnishing materials or leasing equipment to be used or consumed in, or furnishing appliances, teams, or power contributing to work of improvement shall have a lien upon the property.

The bottom line is that if you have somehow ENHANCED the value of real property and under very specific circumstances, you have the right to record a Mechanic’s Lien against the person’s whose property you enhanced.


Question: I am an unlicensed contractor. Do I have the right to record a Mechanic’s Lien against someone’s property?

Answer: NO!!!! If you perform work that requires a contractor’s license and you do not have a contractor’s license during all phases of the work, you DO NOT have the right to record a Mechanic’s Lien against someone’s property.


Question: Do I have to have a direct contract with the property owner in order to have the right to record a Mechanic’s Lien?

Answer: If you do not have a direct contract with the owner, you must serve the owner with a 20-Day Preliminary Lien Notice within twenty days of first having performed the work or you cannot record a Mechanic’s Lien.

If you have a direct contract with the property owner, you can record a Mechanic’s Lien without first having to serve the owner with a 20-Day Preliminary Lien Notice. (See July 2009, Update on Preliminary Lien Notices)


Question: When can I record a Mechanic’s Lien against someone’s property?

Answer: When someone owes you money for work performed on their property and subject to previously discussed pre-recording requirements, you have the legal right to record a Mechanic’s Lien against the property.


Question: What is the last date that I can record a Mechanic’s Lien?

Answer: If you are a general contractor, subcontractor or material supplier you generally have ninety (90) days from the last day that anyone worked on the project. The general rule of law is that the clock starts ticking on the day the building inspector signs the project off as completed.

If a Notice of Completion has been recorded and mailed to you by certified mail, the time to record your Mechanic’s Lien changes depending on whether you are a general contractor or a subcontractor and/or material supplier. General contractors have sixty days after the Notice of Completion has been recorded and subcontractors and/or material suppliers have thirty (30) days after the Notice of Completion has been recorded.

If the project becomes abandoned and no Notice of Cessation is recorded, you have 150 days from the date that all work stopped to record your Mechanic’s Lien.


Question: Once I record a Mechanic’s Lien, what do I do?

Answer: If you haven’t been paid, you must file a lawsuit within ninety days of the date your Mechanic’s Lien has been recorded or the Mechanic’s Lien becomes legally void.

Question: What happens if I don’t file a lawsuit within the ninety days and I don’t release the Mechanic’s Lien?

Answer: A void Mechanic’s Lien is a SLANDER on the title of the property. It does not disappear just because you haven’t filed a lawsuit. If you do not release the Mechanic’s Lien, you can be sued for slander of title and, at the minimum, the court will award the property owner $2,000 in damages despite the fact that the property owner may owe you money.


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