Georgia mechanics lien law can be tricky, as is the case in every state. One tiny error in the way you preserve or enforce your mechanics lien can invalidate your entire claim, and accordingly, you’ll want to be very careful in this process. This article is a step-by-step guide to filing a Georgia mechanics lien.
Step 1: Do You Have The Right to File A Georgia Mechanics Lien?
The first step you’ll take in any state is to figure out whether you even have a mechanics lien rights. Not everyone does. These rights are reserved to certain parties who furnish certain services or materials to a certain type of construction improvement project. The statutes provide that the following parties have the right to file a Georgia Mechanics Lien:
Mechanics of all sorts who have taken no personal security for work done or materials furnished, contractors, subcontractors, materialmen to contractor or subcontractors, laborers, registered architects, registered surveyors, registered professional engineers, contractors/subcontractors/materialmen furnishing material to subcontractors, machinists/manufacturers of machinery, equipment renters.
Whew! That’s a fairly substantial list. As you can see, while the lien laws do restrict who can and cannot file, there are a lot of parties who qualify for mechanics lien rights in Georgia. In fact, it’s pretty safe to say that if you furnished any type of labor or materials to a construction improvement, you’ll probably fall into one of the categories qualified to file a mechanics lien.
Step 2: Were You Required To Send A Georgia Preliminary Notice?
Georgia is one of those states that only requires preliminary notice if the property owner files a notice at the start of the construction project — the “notice of commencement.” Practically speaking, these notices are only infrequently filed by owners. Unfortunately, however, there is no easy way for subcontractors or material suppliers to know whether the notice has or has not been filed.
It’s a safe practice to always send preliminary notice on a project in Georgia.
If you didn’t send the notice you may still have mechanics lien rights. It will be important to determine whether the Notice of Commencement has or has not been filed, triggering your requirement.
Step 3: Prepare Your Mechanics Lien Form
Now it’s time for the big show — getting the Georgia mechanics lien claim form filled in and ready for filing. Be very careful with this step.
It is very, very easy to do something wrong when creating your mechanics lien form. This includes using the wrong form to begin with, as there is a lot of bad information on the Internet and a lot of bad free lien forms. While there isn’t any particular formatting requirements or anything that makes the layout of the form special, the Georgia mechanics lien must contain the following information:
1. Identification of the lien claimant (name, address, phone number)
2. Name and address of party who hired lien claimant
3. Name of the owner
4. Description of the property being liened
5. Description of services furnished
One tricky part of any mechanics lien filing is describing the property and determining whether a legal property description is required. In Georgia’s statutes, it is not clear what type of property description is sufficient, only requiring it be described “with sufficient particularity to be identified.” It’s a safe practice to use the legal description.
Step 4: Get Your Georgia Mechanics Lien Filed
Once your mechanics lien form is prepared (and signed), you’ll next need to get it recorded. A mechanics lien is useless unless it is actually recorded with the proper recording office.
Georgia mechanics lien claims must be recorded with the clerk of superior court of the county where the real estate being liened is located.
You’ll need to make sure that you have the margins set in accordance with the county’s specific rules, and also be aware of the county’s specific fee structure because liens are often rejected if there is a penny less or more than the required fee.
Step 5: Serve The Mechanics Lien On The Owner
Georgia’s mechanics lien law requires that the lien claimant serve a copy of the mechanics lien upon the property owner. Service on the property owner may be by certified or registered mail, or by overnight delivery (like FedEx).
If you cannot find or serve the property owner after performing some due diligence, it is possible to serve the prime contractor as the owner’s agent. However, you’ll want to be sure about not finding the property owner (and record the steps you took) before doing this.
This notice of the mechanics lien filing is very important, and it must be accomplished quickly. In fact, the law requires that the property owner be notified of the mechanics lien filing within just two days of recording! That’s fast.
Make sure you not only serve the property owner, but you also keep evidence of service. We’ve written about such evidence under the tag: Affidavit of Service.
Step 6: Enforce Your Lien If It’s Not Paid
Most mechanics lien claims get paid, and they get paid fast. Nevertheless, nothing in life is guaranteed, and there are circumstances where your mechanics lien claim may not get paid before it expires. That’s right, mechanics lien claims expire.
The Georgia mechanics lien is effective for a period of 1 year. 1 year after it’s filed the lien will expire unless you take action to enforce it by filing a foreclosure suit.
Therefore, if this deadline is approaching, be sure to get prepared to file your suit. Just as importantly, track the deadline. When you use levelset’s system to file a mechanics lien claim tracking of your foreclosure deadline will be included.