What is a Mechanics Lien?
- Lien Resources
- Top Links
Mechanics Lien FAQs
Thinking about filing a lien against property? It's common to have questions. There are tons of rules and lots of confusion. Dig through some of the most frequently asked questions here.
Map of Lien Deadlines & Rules
Quickly see the construction lien rules, deadlines, and requirements in your state with this color-coded US Map.
Free Lien Forms
Download free mechanic lien forms for any state and any project. These fill-able PDFs are easy to use and have been curated or created by construction attorneys and payment experts.
See If Your Contractor Is Getting Liened
When choosing to work with a general contractor, you'll want to know how they pay, and whether they'll pay fast and fair. Get inside info on your project's GC.
File Your Lien Online & Get Paid
Ready to pull the trigger and get your cash? Filing a lien online is easy and fast, and helps make sure you get it all done right. Get your lien filed in less than 5 minutes, right here.
Contractors and suppliers can file a mechanics lien when unpaid on a construction project. These lien filings cause disruptions to the flow of funds, and put the unpaid contractor/supplier in the best position to get paid. There are many effects to a project and property caused by a mechanics lien filing, which is explored further in our article, the 17 ways a mechanics lien works to get you paid.
As you’ll see in that article, filing a mechanics lien:
- Actually freezes the property, prohibiting it from being sold, transferred, refinanced, etc.;
- It can throw the project’s GC in default of their contract with the owner;
- It gets multiple parties, like lenders and owners, involved in the payment claim;
Lien filings nearly guarantee payment for contractors and suppliers. In fact, it’s sometimes even called “security” or “collateral.” Mechanics lien claims also go by a variety of other names — construction lien, property lien, claim of lien, laborers lien, contractors lien, suppliers lien, and even weird names like, in Louisiana, the “statement of claim and privilege.”
The right to file a lien is built directly into the law of every state as a way to protect construction participants from nonpayment. This fundamental U.S. public policy of protecting the payment for construction dates back to Thomas Jefferson. In many states — like California and Texas — the right to file a lien is actually baked right into the state’s constitution!
One important note about “lien” protection is that this is typically only available on “private” construction jobs – or, in other words, commercial, residential, privately-owned, and industrial projects. Publically owned property cannot be “liened,” but does have a similar remedy available through bond claims and required payment bonds. Get help figuring out what type of project you may be on here: Types of Construction Projects: What They Are & Why You Should Care.
Filing a construction lien is a great remedy for contractors and suppliers not paid…but, there is a dilemma.
Preserving and using the mechanic’s lien right can be quite tricky.
There are many rules and requirements (such as the requirement in most states to send a preliminary notice at the start of a construction project!). And, unfortunately, the rules are different from state-to-state and project-to-project.
Those expecting to be paid on a construction project should take great care in understanding the lien & notice requirements that apply to their job, the lien deadlines, and must be proactive in keeping the company in a “secured” or “lienable” position from the very start of the job.
Those who are facing a lien claim against them or their project will want to examine the applicable requirements and confirm that the lien filing party has conformed to them. In the event that a lien is invalid or improperly filed, a process can be used to demand the lien gets removed. Otherwise, property owners, construction lenders, general contractors, and other interested parties can seek to bond off the lien, to accelerate its expiration period, and/or to otherwise figure out a way to compromise and resolve the issue.
The bottom line is that lien rights are powerful, and effective, and they exist to empower contractors, suppliers, and others working in the construction industry to get what they earn. Levelset’s comprehensive lien and lien law resources — which includes state-by-state guides, forms, frequently asked questions, and more — will help you better understand the mechanic’s lien process that applies to your state and job.
See this post for a detailed step-by-step guide on how to file your mechanics lien.