When a contractor, subcontractor, supplier, or other construction professional doesn’t get paid for work on a Nebraska project, they have the right to file a construction lien. If you have decided to file a mechanics lien, this step-by-step guide will break down the requirements in the Nebraska Construction Lien Act, and walk you through the process step by step.
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Use the right mechanics lien form
It is critical to make sure your mechanics lien form contains all of the required information. Nebraska’s mechanics lien laws require strict compliance with specific statutory requirements.
Strict compliance means that the failure to provide the required information on the lien claim isn’t just a simple oversight — it can invalidate the entire lien and make it unenforceable (or in other words, useless).
While Nebraska provides some information related to the contents of a lien for work on railroads or similar utilities, the Nebraska lien laws are not clear on the requirements for the contents of a lien for other (most) projects.
Note, however, that certain information is always helpful, and it is likely a best practice to include at least the same information as would be required on a railroad or utility project.
A Nebraska mechanics lien form should contain the following information:
- The name of the owner
- The name of the claimant
- A description of the real property to be charged with the lien
- A just and true statement or account of the demand due to s/he after allowing all credits
- The time when such material was furnished or labor performed, and when completed
- A signature verifying the lien by affidavit
How to File a Nebraska Mechanics Lien
Now it’s time to get your Nebraska mechanics lien filed with the register of deeds of the county in which the property at the center of the construction project is located.
Step 1: Prepare the lien form
Fill out the information on the lien form. Make care to include all relevant information, and sign the document with the verification statement in the presence of a notary. Have the affidavit notarized.
Step 2: Record your lien
To record your mechanics lien, you will need to take or deliver the completed form to the register of deeds in the Nebraska county where the property is located. A Nebraska lien may be delivered 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. Lien 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 register of deeds, checking on the register’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 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 – this is important because Nebraska requires a stamped copy to be served on the property owner to complete the process.
Some counties in Nebraska allow for electronic recording. If your lien is to be filed in a county in which e-recording is available, that can streamline the process and ensure the proper fees are provided. If e-recording is not an option, or you don’t wish to file in that manner, send the original notarized copy to the register of deeds of the county in which property is located.
Step 3: Serve a copy of the mechanics lien
The process to obtain a valid Nebraska mechanics lien is not completed just by filing the document. A copy of the lien must be served on the property owner.
Nebraska specifies that the copy served on the property owner must be a stamped or recorded copy of the lien. It must be served on the owner within 10 days of the lien being filed.
This is a relatively short turn-around time, so if you didn’t e-record or physically bring the lien to the register for recording, it pays to keep your eyes peeled for a return copy in order to get it served immediately. Service on the property owner can be accomplished by certified mail.
After filing: Next steps
Congratulations! Once the lien document has been filed and served, your Nebraska mechanics lien is ready to get you paid what you’ve earned. While mechanics liens are powerful, they can still be challenged. (And as discussed above, if the recording, timing, or notice requirements were not specifically complied with, the lien may be unenforceable.)
Finally, a Nebraska mechanics lien stays effective for 2 years from the date the lien was filed.
Even if it is a valid lien, the fact the lien was filed may not be enough to prompt payment by itself. If you are not paid within 2 years of filing, you may need to enforce your lien claim through a foreclosure action. While this ultimately ends up with received payment in nearly every case, it can sometimes be a long road to get there if a foreclosure suit is needed.