In a perfect world, construction businesses are always paid for the work they perform. Unfortunately, the world’s not there yet (and won’t getting there any time soon).
Thankfully, mechanics liens are available to the construction industry in all 50 states, including Missouri, to help contractors, material suppliers, and others get paid they money they’ve earned on their projects and jobs. While a mechanics lien is a very serious step and should be treated as a last resort, knowing how to leverage this powerful tool is a must for anyone in the construction business.
Read on as we’ll give you a step-by-step guide detailing how to file a Missouri mechanics lien.
If you have been forced to file a Missouri mechanics lien, this step-by-step guide will outline the entire process. Before taking the mechanics lien plunge, it’s important to keep in mind that there may be preliminary notice and timing requirements that you must have met in order to have maintained your lien rights.
Additionally, filing a mechanics lien by yourself can be a complicated and time-consuming task. But, if you’re ready to file, following the steps below help get it done.
Make Sure Your Missouri Mechanics Lien Has the Required Information
It is very important to make sure that you make sure all of the required information is included in your Missouri mechanics lien. Leaving out some information or using the wrong format isn’t just a simple mistake – it’s something that can render your entire lien invalid.
Missouri mechanics liens must be verified by oath, and must include:
- 1) The name of the claimant (“Grantee”);
- 2) A just and true account (see below) of the demand due after all just credits have been given;
- 3) A true description of the property (or so near as to identify the same) upon which the lien is intended to apply;
- 4) A description of the property that is to be subject of the lien;
- 5) The identity of the property owner (“Grantor”);
- 6) The identity of the direct contractor.
Special Note Regarding Residential Property and the “Just and True Account” Requirement
For Missouri mechanics liens against a residential property, there’s an extra “just and true account” requirement. A claimant satisfies this requirement by providing the following information and documentation as part of its Missouri mechanic’s lien claim:
- 1) A photocopy of the file-stamped notice of rights and any renewals of notice of rights recorded by or identifying claimant;
- 2) The name and address of the person or entity which claimant contracted with to perform work on the property;
- 3) A copy of any contract or contracts, purchase order or orders, or proposal or proposals (“agreements”), and any agreed change orders or modifications to such agreement or agreements under which claimant performed its work on the property;
- 4) In the absence of any written agreement or other agreements, a general description of the scope of work agreed to be performed by the claimant on the property and the basis for payment for such work as agreed to by claimant and the contracting party;
- 5) All invoices submitted by a claimant for its work on the property;
- 6) An accurate statement of account which shows all payments or credits against amounts otherwise due to claimant for the work performed on the property and the calculation or basis for the amount claimed by a claimant in its mechanic’s lien statement; and
- 7) The last date that claimant performed any work or labor upon, or provided any materials or equipment to, the property;
- 8) The claimant shall attach a file-stamped copy of his or her notice of rights to claimant’s mechanics lien statement if and when filed with the circuit clerk
How to File a Missouri Mechanics Lien
Now it’s time to get your Missouri mechanics lien recorded.
- Prepare the lien document, taking care to include all the necessary information set forth above – including the required statements.
- Sign the document under oath and have notarized. (NOTE that Missouri generally requires black ink).
- If your project was on residential property prepare the attachments outlined above – including the file-stamped copy of his or her notice of rights.
- Deliver the lien must the office of the clerk of the circuit court of the county where the property is located. The lien claim may be delivered to the clerk’s office by mail, FedEx, or hand-delivered to the clerk’s office, either by you or by a courier.
- Remember, the proper recording fees must be included with the lien. Liens are often rejected for improper fees (sometimes 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 can be determined by calling the applicable recording office, checking on the office’s website, or asking in person if you physically bring the lien for filing.
– Note that your lien document must also comply with any specific margin (or cover sheet) requirements that particular county’s clerk may have – these can also be determined by calling the clerk’s office.
- BEST PRACTICE – Serve the lien on interested parties.
How to Serve a Missouri Mechanics Lien
Missouri does not specifically require that a mechanics lien be served in order to be valid. However, it is always a best practice to provide notice of the lien to the property owner and any other party higher than you on the payment chain (such as the prime contractor or the lender).
Congratulations! Once the lien document has been filed and served, your Missouri mechanics lien can start to get you paid.
But What If You’re Still Unpaid?
A Missouri mechanics lien stays effective for 6 months from the date the lien was filed. Liens are very powerful, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be disputed or challenged. Filing the lien may not get you paid immediately, and sometimes you may need to enforce your lien in order to get paid. But that doesn’t have to be the next step…
Enter: the Notice Intent to Foreclose. This document states that if the filed lien claim isn’t paid and paid soon, a lawsuit will be filed and the lien will be foreclosed. Considering the implications, owners and contractors tend to take this threat seriously. Upon receipt, they may be more likely to make payment or at least approach the negotiating table. Plus, if it doesn’t work, enforcing the lien claim is always an option.
Missouri Lien and Notice FAQs
There’s a wealth of helpful information for contractors, suppliers, and others involved in the Missouri construction industry available on the Levelset website. Follow the link for FAQs, rules and requirements, free document templates, and more.
Stuck With a Payment Issue and Not Sure What to Do Next?
Mechanics lien laws are difficult to understand and tough to navigate in any state, including Missouri. But at the same time, a payment issue on one of your projects or jobs is one of the most serious threats your business can face. Here at Levelset, we talk to thousands of folks every week that are dealing with construction payment issues, so we know how stressful it can be.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you’re facing a payment issue on a construction project in Missouri. We’re here to help you get paid the money you earned.