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Alaska mechanics lien law is complicated and it’s important to understand the laws applicable to your project. Here are five things you should know about Alaska mechanics lien law.
1) Preliminary Notice is Not Required, But Sending It Can Be Beneficial
In Alaska, preliminary notice is called a Notice of Lien Rights. This is not a required notice, but if you’re interested in sending it, you should serve it upon the property owner and FILE it with the property recorder’s office before furnishing labor or materials to the project. This notice makes enforcement of the lien easier and transfers the burden of proof to the owner. It can extend the time the lien claimant has to file the lien.
Anyone — the prime, the subcontractor or the supplier — may deliver this notice.
The preliminary notice rules in Alaska may be a little confusing. Check out a more robust discussion on Levelset’s Alaska Mechanics Lien Resources Page.
2) Your Deadline to File an Alaska Mechanics Lien is Dependent Upon Your Role in the Project
Your deadline to file an Alaska mechanics lien depends on whether the property owner has filed a Notice of Completion and whether you have served a Notice of Lien Rights.
If the owner has not filed a Notice of Completion – which is most often the case – claimants must file their mechanics lien within 120 days after the claimant completes the construction contract, or ceases to furnish labor, materials, services, or equipment.
If the Owner has filed a Notice of Completion, the default rule is that you must file your mechanics lien within just 15 days of the notice’s filing. Not only do those 15 days go by quickly, but you likely won’t get any notification that the Notice of Completion was filed, and thus, the deadline will come and go without you knowing it.
However, if the lien claimant recorded a Notice of Right to Lien within the statutorily specified time period, his lien rights are not affected by the filing of a Notice of Completion and he maintains 120 days to record his Claim of Lien.
3) Only Certain Parties Can File an Alaska Mechanics Lien
You are qualified to file a mechanic’s lien in Alaska if you fall into one of the following categories outlined by Alaska Stat. Sec. 34.35.050:
- a company or individual who performed labor for improvement of real property,
- union trust and trustees,
- materialmen who furnished materials to the site,
- equipment supplier who supplied equipment to the site,
- architect, surveyor, or engineer, or
- general contractor.
It seems, although there are no Alaska court decisions on point, that a materialman or subcontractor must have contracted with a subcontractor or higher — not a sub-sub — in order to have lien rights. Also, a material or equipment supplier is required to have supplied the material or equipment to the project site.
4) Know The Foreclosure Deadline
Mechanics lien claims do not last forever. See this frequently asked questions article, for example: Does A Mechanics Lien Cloud Title Forever?
Alaska law requires that a mechanic’s lien be enforced within 6 months of the date the Claim of Lien was recorded. Alaska allows a lien to be extended for an additional 6 months if an Extension Notice is recorded in the same recording office as the original lien within the original 6-month period.
5) Alaska Mechanics Lien Must Include Legal Property Description – Usually
Whenever filing a mechanics lien, it’s critical to properly identify the property being encumbered. It is this description that controls precisely which property is being listed and therefor liened. Each state’s mechanics lien laws have strict requirements as to what does and does not constitute proper identification of land. If you don’t describe the property sufficiently, you’re lien is toast.
In Alaska, a formal legal property description must be included in the mechanics lien claim…usually. The actual statute requires “a legal description sufficient for identification” in order for the lien to be valid.
However, courts have very occasionally taken into account circumstances and the place where the lien is recorded to allow less-than formal legal descriptions within mechanics lien claims. These allowances, while perhaps worthwhile as a last attempt to save a lien from being invalid, are the exception to the rule. You should go to great effort to get the legal property description within your mechanics lien claim and do not count on your less-formal description to work