You’ve filed a mechanics lien. Your deadline to enforce (or foreclose) the lien is approaching, and you still haven’t been paid. But you’re not ready to enforce the lien — you just need a little more time to collect.
Sound like you?
You’re not alone. The good news is, some states allow lien claimants to extend a mechanics lien. The bad news is, most states do not. Keep reading to learn how to get your mechanics lien extension.
Extending a Mechanics Lien vs. Extending the Deadline to File a Mechanics Lien
Before diving into the extension rules for individual states, let’s clarify an important distinction. Mechanics liens have a number of deadlines. The three big ones are:
- The deadline to send a preliminary notice (pre-lien notice). This deadline applies to those who do construction/renovation work in one of the 38 states that have a preliminary notice requirement. When this deadline passes, potential lien claimants lose their right to file a mechanics lien.
- The deadline to file the mechanics lien. This deadline applies to contractors, suppliers, etc. who are considering filing a mechanics lien. When this deadline passes, the potential lien claimant can no longer file a valid mechanics lien.
- The deadline to enforce the mechanics lien. This deadline applies to claimants who have already filed a mechanics lien. When this deadline passes, the claimant can no longer enforce the lien (the lien expires).
This article discusses #3 above: the deadline to enforce a mechanics lien. This is sometimes called the deadline to foreclose a lien, or the deadline to bring an action to enforce a lien. For information about extending the deadline to file a mechanics lien, visit the mechanics lien resources and select the state in which your construction project is located.
Only the Law Can Grant Permission to Extend a Mechanics Lien
Most states do not allow claimants to extend a mechanics lien. In these states, neither property owners nor lenders nor any other party involved in the construction project may enable a claimant to extend a lien.
Even if the property owner tells you in good faith that you can enforce your lien past your deadline — maybe so that he or she has more time to come up with your payment — you cannot do so. Your lien will become unenforceable according to state lien statute, not according to the wishes of the property owner or some other party.
States That Allow Claimants to Extend a Mechanics Lien
Below are explanations of the rules for extending mechanics liens in the six states that allow claimants to do so.
Alaska requires lien claimants to enforce the lien within 6 months of filing the lien. If you record an extension notice within this 6 month period, you then have 6 months from the date that the extension notice is recorded to enforce the mechanics lien (AK § 34-35-080 (2)).
The extension notice must be recorded in the same office where the lien was recorded, and must show the recording date, book, and page or instrument number or serial number of the initial lien claim, as well as the amount of the lien claim.
California requires lien claimants to enforce the lien within 90 days of filing the lien. This period can be extended if the property owner and the claimant agree to extend credit by recording a notice with the terms of the extension agreement (CA § 8460 (b)). The notice must be recorded within the original 90-day period. It can be recorded after that period only if no other person has purchased or acquired rights to the property.
The claimant has 90 days from the date the extension notice is recorded to enforce the lien, but the lien must be enforced no later than one year after the completion of the construction or renovation project.
Florida requires lien claimants to enforce the lien within 1 year of filing the lien. The lien can only be extended if the claimant provides further services or materials after filing the lien. If this is the case, the claimant can file an amended lien, and the deadline to enforce is 1 year after the amended lien is filed (FL 713.22).
In Florida, the deadline to enforce a lien can also be shortened (moved earlier). The owner (or owner’s agent or attorney) may record a Notice of Contest of Lien with the clerk’s office, in which case the claimant has 60 days after the notice is recorded to enforce the lien. The notice is deemed recorded when the clerk mails a copy of the notice to the lien claimant.
Any party with an interest in the property may also shorten the deadline to take action by way of the county circuit court. The interested party can file a complaint with the court. If the court clerk, in response, issues a summons to the lien claimant, the claimant has 20 days from receiving the summons to either (a) enforce the lien, or (b) show why his or her lien should not be enforced at that time.
Idaho requires lien claimants to enforce the lien within 6 months of filing the lien. This period can be extended if a partial payment is made, or if an extension of credit is granted, and the date of payment or credit extension is “endorsed on the record of the lien.” In such a case, the deadline to enforce the lien is then 6 months after the date of payment or extension. Idaho statute is vague in describing what it means to endorse “on the record of the lien” (ID § 45-510).
New York requires lien claimants to enforce the lien within 1 year of filing the lien. The claimant can extend this deadline (except for a lien on a single-family residence) by filing an extension, within the initial 1-year period, with the same county office where the lien was recorded. Doing so gives the claimant 1 year from the date the extension is filed to enforce the lien. If the initial 1-year deadline passes, a claimant can attempt to gain a lien extension through an order from “a court of record or a judge or justice thereof.” If that happens, the lien is redocketed and the claimant has 1 year from the date of redocketing to enforce the lien (NY §17).
A lien on a single-family residence can only be extended by a court order. An extension granted by a court or judge cannot extend the lien for more than 1 year, but a claimant can gain such an extension twice (in two successive years).
Oregon requires lien claimants to enforce the lien within 120 days of filing the lien. This deadline can be extended by provisions in the lien, not after the lien is recorded. If the lien includes terms for an extended payment plan, the deadline to enforce the lien is 120 days after the final date of the extended payment. However, no lien can be enforced later than 2 years after the date the lien is originally filed (ORS § 87.055).
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