Calculating mechanics lien deadlines should be straight forward… You start with your last day of furnishing or the completion date for the project (as the case may be), and you count the required number of days and land on your deadline. Easy, right?
If you’re a reader of this blog you know that this isn’t ever the case. Determining when to start counting can be a difficult task because of how each state and situation handle “completion” differently, with some situations allowing punchlist work and others not. A whole host of factors can come into play that makes the start-counting-from date difficult to ascertain, including building occupancy, warranty work, punchlist work, and more.
This post focuses on a less-common confusion: on-going work or on-going furnishing.
There are many situations when materials are furnished or work is performed to a project (or multiple projects) on an on-going basis. I’ll give you two examples.
First, we’ve recently posted about the mechanics lien rights for maintenance companies. These companies provide maintenance services to companies on an on-going basis. They are practically always on-call, and they show up at a location to make tiny repairs whenever called upon. They may perform one task on one day and then not perform another task on the same property for another six months. One could argue that their work is “on-going.”
Second, we frequently post about material suppliers. While every situation is different, material suppliers very frequently furnish materials to their customer under an open account on an on-going basis. The customer will get an order of materials and use it in a project, and then, under the same account, get another order that is used on another project.
How do mechanics lien rights work when work is furnished on such an on-going basis? The devil here, unfortunately, is in the details.
Generally speaking, if work or materials are furnished on an on-going basis to a single customer, that is not too important in calculating a mechanics lien deadline. Instead, mechanics lien laws will be concerned less about the “account” of the customer and more about the “project” where the furnishing occurred.
In calculating your mechanics lien deadline, most state laws will require that you start counting from the last date you furnished labor or materials to the project, and not the account.If the project – as is the case sometimes with a maintenance company – is to show up at the property and fix an air conditioning system, you will count your lien period from the date you completed that. You will not get to extend your lien period because you returned to the property 6 months later to replace a light fixture. Those are two separate projects with two independent lien periods.If you furnish materials on an on-going basis to a customer who uses those materials across ten different projects, you must count your mechanics lien deadline starting from the last furnishing to each individual project.
It’s a good idea, therefore, for material suppliers and maintenance companies to keep track of their furnishing on a project-by-project basis within each individual account.
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One of the most important questions about lien rights concerns whether a potential claimant even has the right to file a lien in the first place. What happens if filing a mechanics lien isn’t an option? What are some other actions to take when you’re having a payment issue? We have a free tool that will help you with these questions. It’s called the Payment Rights Advisor. It only takes a couple of minutes — just answer 5 quick questions about your job, and the Payment Rights Advisor will give you all of your best options, including whether or not you qualify for mechanics lien rights.