We've discussed the basics of the mechanics' lien, that is has nothing to do with your mechanic, and how to avoid one, but what do you do when it's past that point? What do you do when a mechanics' lien is filed on your property?
The first step is to determine the validity of the lien. Was the work completed? Were the supplies listed in the plans/contracts for the job? If you have trouble determining if the mechanics' lien is valid, contact a southern California real estate and business attorney as soon as possible. In some cases, the lien claim is invalid due to the fact that the filer failed to meet the timelines for filing the claim. If you aren't sure if the contractor, subcontractor, laborer, or supplier adhered to the required timeline for filing a claim, review the below list.
Did you receive a Preliminary Notice? Was it given to you within the specific time frame? (Note: direct contractors and/or laborers on the job do not have to file any preliminary notices).
Any subcontractor or supplier for the job has 20 days after the start of the job or delivery of the supplies in order to serve a Preliminary Notice. A late Preliminary Notice will result in the subcontractor/supplier losing lien rights for the work done/materials supplied more than 20 days prior to the notice. When you receive the claim against the property, it is only valid for work that is completed or materials that were supplied 20 days before the notice and after the notice is delivered.
Did the Notice of Mechanics' Lien accompany the lien claim? Any claim should include the amount owed, services/products provided, property owner name, employer, address of the job location, Proof of Service Affidavit (completed and signed by the individual serving), and the claimant's address.
Was the mechanics' lien filed within the appropriate time frame as determined by law? If not, it is not valid. Potential lien claimants must record the mechanics' lien within 90 days of completion of work, when the owner of the property used the improvement or when the owner "accepted" the improvement that was done.
Did the subcontractor or supplier file for a lien foreclosure action in a timely manner? You can verify this by checking with the local superior court. The lien foreclosure action is a lawsuit to foreclose on the mechanics' lien and force a sale of the property by auction in order to obtain the funds that are owed. It must be filed within 90 days of the date they recorded the mechanics' lien. In many cases, lien claimants with valid claims will fail to follow through, which will make the lien invalid.
If you need assistance determining the validity of a mechanics' lien that was filed on your property, please contact one of the experienced southern California real estate and business attorneys at The Law Office of Retz & Aldover LLP as soon as possible.