This post is part one in our four part Mechanics Lien Horror Story Series throughout the month of October. Didn’t think liens could be spooky? Think again.

Imagine this…

…you have your mechanics lien perfectly prepared and ready to be sent off. Your deadline is approaching rapidly, but you make sure your lien will get to the recorder via FedEx or USPS in a timely manner. You double check that your document meets every recording standard the county recorder has set forth, you send it off with a check for the correct amount, and you include a self-addressed stamped envelope so that it can be returned to you. Nothing should stand in the way between you and your mechanics lien getting recorded.

You wait a week to receive your recorded document back. Nothing seems strange or out of place about waiting some time. Some counties can take up to three weeks to send back a recorded lien. And you’ve got all the time in the world because you’re completely sure nothing could go wrong recording your mechanics lien.
And that’s about the equivalent of saying, “Let’s split up, gang!” in a horror movie, because after a week of waiting, you get an envelope in the mail. The return address is for the county recorder you submitted your document to. You think, “Surely it’s my recorded lien!” But you have a feeling in your gut that something has gone terribly wrong.

You open the envelope in trepidation as to what could possibly have gone wrong. Your unrecorded mechanics lien and unused check fall on your desk, along with a letter from the county clerk and the faint smell of mildew.

With trembling hands, you pick up the letter and begin to read:

Dear *****

Your document is being returned to you for the following reason: Document Rejected for Damage
We regret to inform you that your mechanics lien arrived to our office in an envelope completely waterlogged from the rain. The water damage is too extensive. The document is unrecordable and your check is unusable. We apologize for this unusual manner of rejection.

What would you do?

Don’t get spooked. While it’s definitely not the ideal scenario, having a document rejected for damage in some way during the delivery process may not be the axe for your mechanics lien. Most clerks will remember dealing with a scenario like this, and hopefully understand the complete lack of fault on your part. If you receive a letter along with your document rejected for damage, check if it has been signed by an individual clerk. It is best to call the county and ask to speak to that individual and explain your situation, especially if your deadline is coming up.

While county clerks may still reject the document if it has passed the deadline, circumstances such as these may allot an exception. A best practice may be to resend a (dry) version of your document along with the letter you received, and include a cover letter yourself. Let the recorder know what happened, that you acted as quickly as possible once you found out, and that you are concerned about your deadline due to this unforeseen and unavoidable mishap. Some clerks may even backdate your filing to the date it originally arrived to them.

The important steps to take are to act quickly and explain thoroughly. While in some scenarios the clerk may not be able to record your document should an accident like this affect your deadline, often they may find a workaround to help you.