Note: Please follow this link to read a new article about how legal holidays affect lien and notice deadlines.

It’s the holiday season, and that means its time for a warning about mechanics lien and bond claim deadlines. The holiday season brings massive closures of businesses and county recorders, but it doesn’t stop a lien compliance deadline from counting. We issue a warning each year about this black hole of legal time (see last year’s article: The Holidays Can Spoil Your Lien Rights), and here goes again.

Impact #1:  Time Flies During The Holidays

The first place your mechanics lien and bond claim rights can be impaired by the holidays relates to the season in general.
It feels like this time of the year flies by faster than any other period. Businesses rush to close out the year strong, working on financials and first-of-year plans. Family obligations consume free time, work takes a back seat to travel or shopping obligations, and more.  Explanations for why this time of the year goes by so quickly are aplenty (See “Christmas Time At The Collection Agency” from Receivables/Accounts about how collectors have less time in December than other months). What does this really mean to lien rights?
Officially, nothing. Unofficially, however, it means that you spin your head around and suddenly December is one — if you had lien rights expiring or requiring compliance before months-end, you’re flying close to the sun. The end of the holiday season is upon us.
Take some time before the rest of December speeds away and examine your lien and bond claim compliance requirements. Get them on track before you turn the page and look forward to the new year.

Impact #2: Recorder and Vendor Schedules Are A Mess

Practically speaking, getting vendors and county recorders to perform fast is an everyday challenge. In the holiday season, when they are just as distracted and stressed as you are, it’s even more difficult. Add to this practical challenge the concrete holiday schedules employed by these parties.
If you’re sending a preliminary notice, you must navigate the United State Postal Service’s holiday schedule. Worse, county recorder holiday schedules are different county-to-county, and are sometimes bizarre. If you are close to a deadline, you best not wait until the last minute.  Waiting until the last minute is dangerous to begin with (see:  3 Things That Go Wrong When You Wait Until The Last Minute To File A Mechanics Lien).  In the holiday season, it’s worse.

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Impact #3:  “Check Is In The Mail” Excuse Has A Bigger Negative Impact

When a customer promises you that a “check is in the mail,” you know that you usually have to wait before realizing that your customer may have lied.
In the construction industry, this extends to other excuses as well, such as “I’m waiting for payment from the general,” etc. In the holiday season, the waiting period is even longer. Plus, getting in touch with folks by email, phone, or otherwise is harder than usual because of everyone’s holiday schedules and obligations.
The result on lien and bond claim compliance is that you may push yourself closer to a deadline than usual. Fight the urge, and keep the inherent delay and sluggishness of the holiday season in mind. If you’re close to a deadline, see points #1 and #2 above, and get your ducks in line before the holiday break.