Construction professionals at work

“It is fortunate for Kansas that you have brains.”
~L. Frank Baum, The Wizard of Oz

All too often, construction industry participants are finished with work and left waiting for late payment (that may not come at all). This is a nationwide problem affecting construction companies in every state, including Kansas.

The nature of construction payment, with most labor or materials furnished prior to payment, complex pay apps, pay-when-paid clauses, workmanship disputes, and more, makes it seem like the obstacles standing between construction companies and the payment that they have earned and deserved are nearly endless.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. There are legal tools to help construction participants get paid fairly for the labor and material they furnish built directly into the laws of every state. These tools – mechanics liens (and bond claims) – are powerful, and work to get construction companies to get paid fairly.

Mechanics lien can work in at least 17 ways to get you paid, but most importantly they just work. Mechanics liens give the claimant an interest in the improved property itself, which empowers construction participants to recover the money they’ve rightfully earned, and virtually guarantees payment.
If you have decided to file a mechanics lien in Kansas, this step-by-step guide (starting in the next paragraph, below) will break down the entire process for you, from soup to nuts. Before moving ahead with filing mechanics lien, it’s important to note that there may be preliminary notice requirements, (and there are always timing requirements) that must be met prior to filing a valid Kansas mechanics lien. Filing a lien by yourself can be a complicated and time-consuming task, but if you’re ready to go it alone, just follow the steps below.

Make Sure Your Kansas Mechanics Lien Has the Required Information

It is crucial to make sure your Kansas mechanics lien contains all of the information specifically required by Kansas’ lien laws. Mechanics liens are creatures of statute, and as such, require strict compliance with the statutory requirements. The failure to provide certain specific information on the lien claim isn’t just a simple oversight – it can invalidate the entire lien. Clearly, then, great care should be taken to make sure the proper information is obtained and included in the lien document.

Kansas mechanics liens are required to be a verified statement containing the following information:
1) The name of the owner;
2) The name and address sufficient for service of process of the claimant;
3) A description of the real property to be charged with the lien;
4) A reasonably itemized statement and the amount of the claim, (Note, however, if the amount of the claim is evidenced by a written instrument, or promissory note, a copy of the written document may be attached to the claim instead of the itemized statement; and
5) A signature verifying the lien by affidavit.

Special Note Regarding Timing of Kansas Mechanics Liens

Kansas generally requires that mechanics lien be filed within 4 months of the date of last furnishing labor or materials (for a direct contractor) and within 3 months of last furnishing labor or materials (for everybody else). However, for non-residential projects, this deadline may be extended to 5 months (for all parties), if the claimant files a notice of extension within their original lien deadline, and sends the notice by certified and regular mail to the general contractor or construction manager and by regular mail to the property owner.

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How To File a Kansas Mechanics Lien

Now it’s time to get your Kansas mechanics lien filed with the clerk of the district court of the county in which property is located.

  1. Prepare lien form, taking care to include the necessary information as set forth above, and sign the document with the verification statement. While the lien needs to be verified – not necessarily notarized – it makes for a smoother recording process if the document is notarized.
  2. Send the original notarized copy to the office of the clerk of the district court of the county in which property is located.
    – The lien may be delivered to the proper county recorder via mail or FedEx, or personally “walked in” to be recorded (either by you or a courier).

    – Make sure to include the proper recording fees with the lien. Liens are often rejected for improper fees (and this can be true even if you provide too much money). Any delay caused by needing to resubmit the lien for recording takes time – and since liens are time-sensitive documents, it can possibly result in a missed deadline. Recording fees vary from county to county and can be determined by calling the county clerk of court, checking on the clerk’s website, or asking in person if you physically bring the lien for filing. The fees are often set at one amount for the first page with an additional, smaller, amount for each additional page.

    – Note that your lien document must also comply with any specific margin requirements that particular county may have, as well as potentially requiring a county-specific cover page – these can also be determined by calling the clerk’s office.
  3. Note that if you mailed your lien to the county for recording, or sent it via a courier, along with the proper fees for recording with the document, you must include a self-addressed stamped envelope with return instructions to receive a copy of the recorded lien for your records.
  4. Serve a copy of the mechanics lien – see more below.

How To Serve a Kansas Mechanics Lien

The process to obtain a valid Kansas mechanics lien is not completed by filing the document with the clerk of court – a copy of the lien must be served on the interested parties. The requirements for how a Kansas mechanics lien must be served are complex and vary by claimant role.

An original contractor must serve a copy of the lien on the property owner by both certified and regular mail.
Note – Parties that did not contract directly with the property owner have different service requirements.
Parties other than direct contractors must deliver the lien to the property owner and any party obligated to pay the lien by one of the following methods: 

(1) served personally in the manner provided by K.S.A. 60-304, and amendments thereto, for the service of summons within the state, or by K.S.A. 60-308, and amendments thereto, for service outside of the state;

(2) mailed by restricted mail; or

(3) posted in a conspicuous place on the premises, if the address of any one owner or such party is unknown and cannot be ascertained with reasonable diligence.

The easiest way to accomplish the required service, then, is to send a copy of the lien to all parties “up-the-chain” via restricted mail.

Congratulations! Once the lien document has been filed and served – your Kansas mechanics lien is ready to get you paid what you’ve earned. While this is a powerful tool to get you paid, this may not be the end of the road – it is still possible for the lien to be challenged, or even determined invalid. Or, the fact the lien was filed may not be enough to prompt payment by itself, and you may be forced to enforce your lien claim through a foreclosure action.

Remember that just because a lien is recorded doesn’t necessarily make it valid, and likewise, just because a property owner (or their attorney) may make a claim that it is improper and needs to be removed doesn’t make it invalid.

Finally, a Kansas mechanics lien stays effective for 1 year from the date the lien was filed.
Recording a mechanics lien can be a powerful tool in making sure you are paid what you earned. The How-To guide above can empower you to take that step when and if it becomes necessary, and make sure you are treated fairly.

the Kansas Mechanics Lien Guide

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