Projects involving condominiums, and securing your lien rights against them, always raise unique questions: Can lien be filed against the common elements? Does the lien attach to the whole development or an individual unit? Do the normal Louisiana lien requirements apply, or are there specific rules that govern liens on projects of this type?, etc.
In Louisiana, these issues are addressed by the Louisiana Condominium Act (“LCA”) (LA R.S. 9:1122 et seq.), and Louisiana Mechanic’s Lien Statutes – the Private Works Act (LA R.S. 9:4801 et seq.).
If you worked on only one individual condo unit, the answer is easy: Your privilege is against that individual unit, and your lien should reflect that. If you performed work on the common elements, or for the condo project as a whole, the answer starts to get more complicated.
The time you performed the work or delivered the materials to the condo project, and the party with whom you contracted can effect your lien rights on a condo project. If your claim arises prior to the forming of the condo association, you are allowed to file a claim of privilege against the entire plat of land. After the condominium declaration has been filed for registry, however, LA R.S. 9:1124.109 says that no liens may be filed against the “entire condominium property or the common elements as a whole”.
Further, that same statute requires the consent of each of the unit owners in order to secure your lien. This consent can be obtained easily, however, merely by contracting with, or getting the consent of, the condo association.
if the performance of labor or furnishing of materials is expressly authorized by the association, the labor or materials shall be deemed to be performed or furnished with the express consent of each unit owner and shall be the basis for the filing of a claim of privilege against each condominium parcel in the condominium. LA R.S. 9:1124.109
The next sentence makes the process even easier, because it allows for a single lien to be filed against the condominium association to perfect the privilege against each of the individual units instead of forcing you to file a lien against each separate unit individually.
A single claim of privilege filed against the association shall be deemed to be a separate claim of privilege against each individual unit…
Each individual condo owner can extinguish the privilege on their unit by paying their pro rata share of the debt – as determined by their percentage share of the building’s common expenses. After any such payment, it is the your responsibility to release the privilege against that individual condominium parcel.
Despite these specific condominium rules, the general procedures of Louisiana mechanic’s lien laws still apply. Therefore, in order to preserve your lien rights, you should comply with the general notice requirements provided by the Private Works Act, make sure that a Notice of Contract is filed for projects over $25,000, and that a Notice of Lien Rights is provided under the Residential Truth in Construction Act.
If you’ve worked on a condo project, make sure to keep in mind both the regular Louisiana lien requirements as well as the specific condo rule in order to make sure your lien rights don’t get lost.