We have used a lot of blog space here at the Construction Payment Blog discussing deadlines. Pretty much every aspect of the mechanics lien and notice process has some associated deadline; there is a time to send notices, a time to file liens, and a time to initiate an enforcement action. Although it seems like it would be easy to just look at the associated time period and determine the corresponding deadline, sometimes it’s not that easy.

Every lawyer who reads this blog, is, I’m sure, aware of the potential difficulties in counting days to determine deadlines. But, for everybody else, it may not be as easy as it seems. Sometimes, you count Saturdays and Sundays, sometimes you don’t; sometimes you don’t count legal holidays, sometimes you do; sometimes you count the day of the event giving rise to the period of time, sometimes you start counting on the following day. So, where can that information be found? Generally, for mechanics liens and notices, the way to count the time period is set forth in the mechanics lien statute: a handy list of the mechanics lien laws can be found here, organized by state.

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It is important to realize that the days to count can change depending on the exact requirement even in the same state. For example: In New Jersey, a mechanics lien on non-residential property must be lodged for record within 90 calendar days from the date the claimant last furnished labor or materials to the project. The same lien must be served on the property owner, however, within 10 business days of the date on which it was lodged for record. Here we can see that the same lien, in the same state, can be subject to two different counting procedures.

While it may not seem like a big deal – this can be crucial to your lien claim. If a lien claimant thinks he has, say 30 business days to file a document, but in reality has 30 calendar days, the deadline can be missed, and the lien extinguished.

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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.