California is one of 12 states that has regulated and statutorily provided lien waiver forms. As we’ve explored in a few different posts, this basically means that you should use that specific lien waiver form on all California projects. In the case of this blog post, we’ll dive into California’s Unconditional Lien Waiver – Final Payment.
If you’re tempted to add additional language to the form – don’t (Can I add language to a California lien waiver form?). Even doing some as simple as asking to notarize the form, which doesn’t ordinarily call for notarization, could affect with the document’s validity (Can Notarizing A Lien Waiver Actually Invalidate It?).
So you need a lien waiver on final payment? You will use the statutory California lien waiver form. Here is a guide to all the blank fields in this form to help you get it correct.
Guide to California’s Unconditional Lien Waiver — Final Payment Form
The “Unconditional Waiver and Release on Final Payment” is used when the claimant is required to execute a waiver in exchange for a final payment, and the claimant acknowledges that final payment has been received.
How to Fill Out this Form:
>Name of Claimant: This is the name the party to be paid, and the party who will be signing the lien waiver document. Identify the name of this party correctly. This seem obvious, but incorrectly spelled company names and misidentifying the company – using Inc. when it should be LLC, etc., or referring to a DBA incorrectly – is extremely common. See: 3 Mistakes When Claimants Make When Identifying Themselves.
>Name of Customer:. This is the name of the party who hired the claimant, and usually, the name of the party who will actually be making the payment. It’s possible that the party making the payment is not the “name of customer.” For example, if a property owner (paying party) is making payment directly to a subcontractor (name of claimant). In this instance, the “name of the customer” would be the general contractor. This scenario is typical when the parties are paying with joint checks.
>Job Location: This is the physical place where the work was performed or where the materials were incorporated into the project (i.e. not where the materials were shipped!). There are a lot of very strict requirements when identifying the job location in a mechanics lien claim, but the requirements here are much more relaxed. A physical address will suffice.
>Owner:. This field should identify the property owner(s). Again, while this is pretty straight-forward, nuances about ownership could cause confusion. Here are some suggestions in common complex ownership scenarios:
- Multiple Owners: List all of the owners
- Work done for a tenant: List the tenant and the property owner(s)
- Work managed by a construction manager: List the owners, not the mangers
- On Public Projects: List the government office that commissioned the work
- P3 Projects: Identify developers
>Exceptions: Unlike the “progress payment” lien waivers in California, the final payment waivers like this one do not include certain exceptions by default. Progress payment waivers exclude retention or retainage from the waiver, as well as “extras for which the claimant has not received payment,” and “contract rights.” In this final payment waiver, all of this stuff is waived as a default. Therefore, if you want to exclude absolutely anything, you need to put it in this section of the waiver. The final waiver gives two areas for this:
- “This document does not affect any of the following:” This is the general catch-all. Put everything in the kitchen sink here.
- “Disputed claims for extras in the amount of:” Here you can put any other claims (in dollars) that you have that is not being waived.
>Claimant’s Signature: This is the signature of the individual signing the document on behalf of the claimant. You can e-sign this, as we explored in “Can You Electronically Sign A Lien Waiver?”
>Claimant’s Title: This field should list the job title or role of the individual signing the document.
>Date of Signature: This is simply the calendar date that the document is signed.
You made it! Your California Unconditional Waiver and Release on Final Payment is complete.
It is important to understand the California lien waiver’s significance and be ready to utilize the tools and resources that are available to you. For more guidance with California lien waivers check out Levelset’s guide to the other 3 lien waiver forms in California:
- California’s Conditional Waiver (Progress Payment) Guide
- California’s Conditional Waiver (Final Payment) Guide
- California’s Unconditional Waiver (Progress Payment) Guide
Now go forth and waiver confidently!