If you’ve gone unpaid while working on a private project in Wyoming, you may want to consider filing a mechanics lien. A mechanics lien is one of the most powerful ways a contractor or supplier can protect themselves from non-payment.
This how-to guide will provide you with everything you need to know in order to file a mechanics lien in the state of Wyoming.
Before you file: Make sure you have lien rights in Wyoming
If you’re considering filing a mechanics lien on a construction project in Wyoming, the first thing that you’ll need to establish is whether or not you actually have the right to file a mechanics lien.
Who can file a mechanics lien?
Wyoming grants lien rights to a broad spectrum of construction project participants. This specifically includes all contractors, subcontractors, and materialmen. This also includes design professionals, such as architects and engineers. You don’t even need a written contract to file a mechanics lien in Wyoming.
Preliminary notice requirements
Anyone who wants to file a mechanics lien in Wyoming must first send preliminary notice (known as a Notice to Owner). If you are a general or prime contractor, this preliminary notice must be provided to the owner before any payments are made, including advances. For all other parties, you need to send notice to both the owner and the GC within 30 days of first furnishing of labor or materials to the project. In either case, preliminary notice must be sent by certified mail, with return receipt requested. Failure to send these notices on time will be fatal to your lien rights.
Now that we know who can file a Wyoming mechanics lien, let’s go through each step to get the lien claim recorded.
Step 1. Send a Notice of Intent to Lien
The Wyoming mechanics lien process involves a number of different notices. Before filing your mechanics lien, you’ll first need to send a Notice of Intent to Lien. This needs to be sent to the property owner by certified mail, with return receipt requested at least 20 days before filing the claim. There’s not too much to this notice. It is just a brief statement providing your information, the amount unpaid, and the hiring party’s information.
Step 2. Prepare your Wyoming mechanics lien claim form
The next step is to fill out your Wyoming mechanics lien form. There’s nothing particularly unique about the form, but it needs to be in the proper format and contain all the required information and attachments in order to be valid.
Keep in mind, if you have any trouble tracking down some of this information, fear not. Two of the most elusive pieces of information for most claimants are the property owner’s information and the legal property description. Fortunately, Wyoming mechanics lien law requires that the prime contractor provide this information at the time of contracting. And more remote participants can request this information.
Information to include on your Wyoming claim of lien form:
Your name and address
This section simply requires your name and address or your company’s name and address. As easy as this seems, many claimants end up getting this part wrong. Be sure to use your full legal name or company name. Whatever is listed as your business name when it was registered, is what should appear on the lien claim.
Lien amount (and fees)
Here’s an important one, this is the total amount that you’re claiming is due and owing. But that’s not all! Wyoming also allows lien claimants to include attorney fees and collection costs in the amount. Also, you can include some prejudgment interest accrued, as long as the rate of interest is provided as well. Be careful though, overstating the amount owed or including other additional costs can result in a fraudulent or frivolous lien.
In Wyoming, if the court determines that the claim is groundless or contained a “material misstatement or false claim,” the mechanics lien will be released, and you’ll be penalized with a fine of $1,000 or the amount of actual damages.whichever is higher. You’ll also have to pay the other party’s court costs and attorney’s fees.
Owner’s name and address
Mechanics liens attach to the actual property, but for filing and recordation purposes it needs to properly identify the property owner also. If there’s more than one owner, list them all. As we mentioned above, this can be challenging to get a hold of. But if you don’t know who the property owner is, you can merely request this information from your hiring party.
List of work and/or materials provided
In this section, include a list of the type of labor and materials that you provided to the project. The tricky part of this section is to find the balance of how much information to provide. Wyoming, in particular, requires not only an “itemized list of work and materials,” but also requires that you either provide the actual invoices or a summary of them to be attached. For more information on how to fill out this section.
Read more: How Much Detail Should I Include in Description of Labor and Materials?
Parties the are obligated to pay the debt secured by the lien
This is where the name and contact information of anyone who you claim may be obligated to pay the unpaid balance being claimed in the lien claim. This could include the property owner (yes, just repeat the information from above), the general contractor, and the party that hired you.
Last date of furnishing labor or materials
Under this section, all that’s needed is to add the last date that you were on the project providing labor or materials. This might not always be clear if filing directly after “substantial completion.” If this is the case, providing the anticipated last work date will likely suffice.
Legal description of the property
The state of Wyoming requires a full, legal property description. A simple street address will not be enough. A legal property address, for those unfamiliar with them, will just look like a bunch of letters and numbers. This information is typically found in the county assessor’s office. But, as we mentioned earlier, the law requires the contractor to provide this information at the time of contracting. So you should have this information, if not, request it.
If you have a written contract, then you should reference it and attach it to the lien claim. However, if your contract was oral (or too long/extensive to include) then provide a short summary of the contract terms. Additionally, if the written contract is too long to provide, then you also should provide the address where the contract can be found.
Signed and notarized
Lastly, now that everything is properly filled out, it’s time to sign and notarize your lien statement. Don’t forget this step, as Wyoming requires notarization on a lien claim form. Failing to get the claim notarized will cause your filing to be rejected immediately.
Step 3. File your Wyoming mechanics lien claim
Now that your mechanics lien form is ready and filled out, it’s time to file your claim.
Although this is seemingly simple, there are quite a few things that can go wrong. Some of the more common lien filing mistakes:
- Incorrect filing fees
- Filing in the wrong office or county
- Failing to take turnaround time and backlog into account and filing late
- Missing the deadline because the initial claim was rejected
Where to file the lien
To properly file your claim, you’ll need to identify the proper recording office. Wyoming mechanics liens must be filed in the county clerk’s office where the improved property is located. Each office has it’s own specific requirements and filing fees. Be sure to contact the office ahead of time to be as prepared as possible.
Deadline to file
The deadline to file a Wyoming mechanics lien can vary depending on your role on the project, and who you contracted with.
Prime (direct) contractors: If you contracted directly with the property owner, then the deadline to file a Wyoming mechanics lien is 150 days from the earlier of:
(1) the last day of furnishing labor or materials to the project, or
(2) the date of substantial completion of the project
Subcontractors and material suppliers: All other project participants will need to file their mechanics lien within 120 days of the earlier of:
(1) the last day of furnishing labor or materials to the project, or
(2) the date of substantial completion of the project
Note: If a property owner files a Notice of Substantial Completion, the date that the notice is filed will establish the date of substantial completion.
How to deliver your Wyoming mechanics lien
Lien claimants in Wyoming have three different options when it comes to filing their claim. Each of which has its pros and cons. You can either file your claim in person, send it through the mail, or file it electronically.
Filing in person is by far the safest option. Going down to the actual office may be a pain, but it allows you to ensure not only that the claim gets filed the same day, but allow you to resolve any issues or mistakes in real-time. Again, it’s important to contact the office ahead of time to guarantee that you have all the required documentation. Also, you should probably bring more than one blank check, just in case you miscalculated the filing fees.
Filing by mail
Filing by mail is fairly common, but it does come with its own problems. Particularly timing issues. Between mailing the forms to the office, dealing with office backlog, and the possibility of the filing being denied and sent back can burn a lot of valuable time. And if you miss your deadline, your claim is dead. So if you decide to go this route, confirm the filing fees, and include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with return instructions to receive a copy of the filed claim
The third option to file a Wyoming mechanics lien is to file electronically. Not all county clerk’s offices accept e-recording, but it is becoming more and more prevalent. Obviously, the advantage of this option is convenience. To e-record your lien claim you’ll have to register with one of the approved third-party platforms and upload your documents. When uploading your documents, make sure that the documents are both formatted correctly and they are legible.
Step 4. Send a Notice of Lien Filing
Once you’ve filed your mechanics lien claim, there’s one more step to take. A Notice of Lien Filing should be sent to the property owner within 30 days of filing the claim. If there’s more than one owner, a form should be sent to each of them. And, just like the Notice of Intent to Lien, this must also be sent by certified mail, with return receipt requested.
Although this is required by statute, failure to do so will not affect the validity of the lien claim. But, this is just good practice anyway. The sooner the property owner is notified about a lien filing, the sooner they will act to have it removed.
What to do after filing a Wyoming mechanics lien
A Wyoming mechanics lien is only valid for 180 days after the lien statement was filed. If no action is taken within that time period, the lien will expire and no longer be enforceable. So before this occurs, there’s one of two things that you must do.
Enforcement (foreclosure) action
If the 180-day deadline is steadily approaching, with no payment in sight, it may be time to consider filing a lien foreclosure action. Just to be clear, this is a full lawsuit. Consider this option as a last resort. Before filing a lawsuit, you should contact a local construction attorney to get some legal advice and guide you through the process.
If you’re not quite ready to deal with the court system, there is one more step you can take to try and get paid. Similar to the “Notice of Intent to Lien,” you can send a Notice of Intent to Foreclose. This isn’t required but, its usually enough to induce payment.
Release (cancel) the mechanics lien
If you’ve been paid, then you’ll likely be asked to release the lien claim. Wyoming is one of the few states that have a specified procedure for doing so. Once payment is secured, you have 30 days to file a Notice of Satisfaction in the same office where the lien was recorded. Failing to do so could make you liable for 0.10% of the principal amount of the lien claim per day until the notice is filed. However, there is a cap of $100 per day. This can add up quickly, so if you’ve been paid, just go ahead and file the release as soon as possible.
Wyoming construction lien law & payment resources
- Wyoming Preliminary Notice Guide & FAQs
- Wyoming Mechanics Lien Guide & FAQs
- Even more Wyoming construction payment resources