The construction industry can be a payment nightmare, but fortunately there are powerful legal tools to help construction participants get what they have earned and deserve. The mechanics lien is perhaps the most powerful tool to help construction companies get paid what they’ve earned. If you haven’t been paid for your work on a construction project, this guide will tell you how to file a mechanics lien in Connecticut — step by step.
Mechanics lien can work in many different ways to get you paid, but the most important thing to remember is that they work. By giving the claimant an interest in the improved property itself, the mechanics lien empowers construction participants to recover the money they’ve rightfully earned.
Before you file: Do you have lien rights in Connecticut?
Generally, anyone who provides labor or materials to a construction project has the right to file a lien in Connecticut. However, depending on your role on the project, you may need to take additional action to protect that right.
While general contractors don’t need to take any special action, subcontractors and suppliers need to send a notice of intent to lien within 90 days after last providing labor or materials. Technically, this is only a requirement if the GC filed an affidavit with the town clerk within 15 days after commencing work.
However, it’s a best practice to send an NOI regardless, to make sure lien rights remain intact.
Information required on a Connecticut mechanics lien form
It is imperative that your Connecticut mechanics lien contains the information required by statute and conforms with the formal requirements regarding signature. The failure to comply with the legally defined requirements related to the contents and signing of the lien can be fatal to the lien claim.
Get a free Connecticut mechanics lien form
Download a free mechanics lien form for Connecticut, prepared by construction attorneys to meet the legal requirements.
Connecticut mechanics liens are required to be made under oath by the claimant him/herself, and this is a strictly interpreted provision of the law in Connecticut, so be careful.
Other than a signature of the claimant under oath, a Connecticut mechanics lien must contain the following information:
- Description of the property to be charged with the lien
- Amount to be claimed
- Name or names of the person against whom the lien is being filed
- Date of first furnishing (the first date you started providing services or materials
- Statement that “the amount claimed is justly due, as nearly as the same can be ascertained.”
Special note on mechanics lien signatures
Connecticut law says that liens must be attested to under oath and must be notarized to be valid. The “under oath” requirement is important in Connecticut, as courts have repeatedly indicated that a simple notarial acknowledgment will not do.
The lien claim must actually state that the statement is “under oath” and the notary must perform an oath “ceremony” when making the acknowledgement.
Additionally, the requirement that the lien be signed by the claimant is strictly construed in Connecticut. In fact, a Connecticut court has invalidated a mechanics lien because it was signed by a claimant’s attorney and not the claimant himself. The Connecticut mechanics lien, therefore, must be signed by the lien claimant and the lien claimant only.
Finally, take care to properly identify yourself (as the lien claimant) correctly. For example, identifying yourself as John Doe Construction rather than John Doe dba John Doe Construction can have significant consequences in Connecticut.
4 steps to file a mechanics lien in Connecticut
Now it’s time to file that Connecticut mechanics lien.
1. Prepare the lien form
First, make sure you are using a lien form that meets the statutory requirements in Connecticut. Download a free Connecticut mechanics lien form here. (All of our lien forms are prepared by construction attorneys to comply with state requirements.
Once you have the appropriate form, fill it out, taking care to include the necessary information as described above. But don’t sign it just yet!
2. Sign & notarize the form
You will need to sign the form under supervision of a notary, who must acknowledge the signature of the specific lien claimant and perform the “oath ceremony” required by statute.
This MUST be notarized and the lien must be signed “under oath” in order to be valid. After notarization is complete, make a duplicate of the lien form.
3. Deliver the lien to the town clerk
The next step is to deliver the original, notarized copy of the lien to the town clerk for the town in which the project occurred. The lien may be sent to the proper town clerk via mail or FedEx, or you can personally “walk it in” for recording.
If you have decided to personally deliver the lien for recording, or if you mail/FedEx the lien to the appropriate town, the proper recording fees must be included with the lien.
Liens are often rejected for improper fees — even if you provide too much money. Any delay in recording or requirement to resubmit the lien for recording can possibly result in a missed deadline.
Recording fees can be determined by calling the town clerk, checking on the town clerk office’s website, or asking in person if you physically bring the lien for filing. Generally, the fees are set at one amount for the first page with a smaller amount for each additional page.
4. Serve a copy on the property owner
Once the document is recorded, you must obtain a “true and attested copy” to serve on the property owner. It’s also a good idea to get an additional copy for your records.
If you mailed your lien to the town clerk for recording (or sent it via a courier), you must include a self-addressed stamped envelope with return instructions to receive both a copy of the recorded lien for your records, and a copy for service on the property owner.
Connecticut law requires that a true and attested copy of the lien be served on the property owner no later than 30 days after the Certificate of Lien is filed with the town clerk.
However, what constitutes “service” of a mechanics lien in Connecticut is a bit more involved than in many other states. See below for details.
Connecticut rules for serving a lien
As noted above, a Connecticut mechanics lien must be served on the property owner no later than 30 days after the Certificate of Lien is filed with the town clerk.
Serving a lien in Connecticut requires help from a state marshal or other law enforcement professional. According to the statute (§ 49-35):
“If the owner or original contractor resides in the same town” as the property, service may be “by any indifferent person, state marshal or other proper officer, by leaving with such owner or original contractor or at such owner’s or the original contractor’s usual place of abode.”
If the owner or original contractor does not reside in the same town as the property, the indifferent person, the state marshal or other proper officer may serve the notice by mail. If the notice is returned unclaimed, “notice to such owner or original contractor shall be given by publication.”
Failure to properly serve the certificate of lien within the 30-day statutory deadline can invalidate the lien claim. And since it takes a while to contact a state marshal or process server and arrange for service, it pays to start the service process promptly after recording the lien.
For subcontractors who file early enough, they can serve the notice of intent and notice of recording at the same time and still satisfy Connecticut’s statutory requirements.
You’ve filed a lien – now what?
Congratulations! Once the lien document has been both filed and served on the owner – you have a Connecticut mechanics lien ready to get you paid what you’ve earned.
While this is a powerful tool to get you paid, it is not a cure-all. It is still possible for the lien to be challenged, or even determined invalid. Just because a lien is recorded doesn’t necessarily make it valid. Likewise, if a property owner (or their attorney) claims that it is improper and needs to be removed, that doesn’t make a lien invalid.
After filing a lien in Connecticut, you can’t just sit back and put your feet up. Liens don’t last forever.
A Connecticut mechanics lien is effective for 1 year from the date on which it was recorded. After that date the lien expires, and it cannot be extended. If the deadline is approaching and you still haven’t been paid, you may decide to enforce the lien. This requires filing a foreclosure suit in court. Navigating the foreclosure process will typically require the help of an experienced construction lawyer.