I had a client contact me the other day with a situation that arises quite often. Their company had furnished services to a single construction project, with a single owner and under a single contract. There was only one catch: the work was across multiple properties.

This situation is treated differently in every state.  Sometimes, the state will allow a single mechanics lien be filed for the work across multiple projects. Other states, however, would require you to segregate the work and file a separate lien for each property.  The absolutely safe practice would be to segregate the work and file individual liens. In doing this, you avoid having to dance with the lien law nuances.

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In any event, California’s statute appears to make the one-lien remedy easy.  California Civil Code § 8446 provides:

A claimant may record one claim of lien on two or more works of improvement, subject to the following conditions:

(a) The works of improvement have or are reputed to have the same owner, or the work was contracted for by the same person for the works of improvement whether or not they have the same owner.

(b) The claimant in the claim of lien designates the amount due for each work of improvement. If the claimant contracted for a lump sum payment for work provided for the works of improvement and the contract does not segregate the amount due for each work of improvement separately, the claimant may estimate an equitable distribution of the amount due for each work of improvement based on the proportionate amount of work provided for each. If the claimant does not designate the amount due for each work of improvement, the lien is subordinate to other liens.

To accommodate the situation, California allows a single mechanics lien be filed against the multiple properties, requiring only that the properties have the same owner and that the claimant segregate its work (the best as possible, an estimation is allowed) between the properties.

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