A little while ago, I posted a short article discussing the requirement of identifying the property on which a mechanic’s lien is claimed. How detailed that description must be varies from state to state, and runs from a full legal description, to merely a municipal street address – or potentially even less. Another mechanic’s lien requirement that may have some variation between states is the identification of the parties to be listed on the lien.
The parties that are required to be listed on a mechanic’s lien are not always completely uniform – depending both on the individual state, and various potential requirements related to the priority of the lien claim as to other encumbrances on the property. Generally speaking, however, there are certain parties required to be listed on every lien claim (although, like everything in mechanic’s lien law, there are some exceptions). These parties are the property owner, the general contractor, the party who hired the lien claimant, and, naturally, the lien claimant. Other parties that may or not be required or applicable include a tenant, or a construction lender.
The question, then, is how those parties must be identified. Oftentimes, a lien claimant has an individual contact who may not be the owner or general in his/her individual capacity. That is, if the owner is a company, should the lien identify the property owner as “John Smith, President/Owner of X Corp.”, or “X Corp.” While there may be some leeway in certain states, Washington, for example only requires the “name of the owner or reputed owner of the property, if known“, many states require that the actual property owner be listed on the lien and the failure to do so may result in the lien being invalidated.
It generally does not meet the requirement of listing the property owner on the lien document to list an individual when the actual owner is a company. While there are always exceptions, and arguments to be made, the safest bet is always to list the property owner as the person or company that actually owns the land, as noted in the land records/assessment records/title documents, etc.
The same analysis can be extended to the general contractor and the party who hired the lien claimant. Even if you have been working with “Bob Jones” for years, and know his company as “Bob’s Contracting”, if the actual name of his company is “Construction Company, LLC” that is what should appear on the documents.
While it may not always invalidate a lien if a party is not listed exactly correctly, it may. Best practice is always to find out the correct information, and copy it verbatim for use on the lien claim.