Guide to filing a mechanics lien in Cook County

Cook County is the second largest county in the United States, and it’s the largest county in Illinois. With busier public offices and longer wait times, even the slightest error during preparation could get your lien claim rejected and delay your payment even further. To help you avoid those mistakes, this page contains an introduction to Illinois lien law and useful information about the Cook County Recorder of Deeds.

To get started, here are a few important limitations in Illinois lien law:

  1. Contractors must present a written sworn statement to the property owner. This sworn statement must contain the names and addresses of any party furnishing labor or materials on the construction project, as well as state the amount of money that each party is due or will be due on the construction party. Failure to provide this statement could strip you of your lien rights.
  2. Although they don’t apply to everyone on the project, Illinois does have preliminary notice requirements. If you aren’t directly contracted with the property owner, you’re required to submit a notice of intent to lien to the property owner within 90 days of first work or furnishing of materials.
  3. The deadline to file a mechanics lien in Illinois depends on who the lien is filed against. If you’re filing a mechanics lien against all parties, you have 4 months after the project’s completion to file a mechanics lien. If you’re filing against the property owner alone, the deadline is 2 years after furnishing labor or materials.

You can learn more about these rules and more on our Illinois lien law and FAQs page.

If you’ve gone unpaid after a construction project in Cook County, you’ll need to record your mechanics lien with the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. Below is a list of helpful frequently asked questions that provide you with the Cook County Recorder’s recording requirements, formatting requirements, recording fees, and contact information as well as information regarding eRecording, recording by mail, and links to eFile your lien with Levelset in only a few clicks.

For a breakdown of the Illinois mechanics lien process as a whole and the lien documents you’ll need to successfully record your lien claim, check out our Step-by-Step Guide to Filing a Mechanics Lien in Illinois.

Where do I file a mechanics lien in Cook County, Illinois?

You should file your mechanics lien with the County Recorder of Deeds. You can do this in person, by mail, or electronically.

In-Person

You can bring your documents to the following County Recorder of Deeds office locations in person at the following addresses:

Downtown Chicago Office
Address: 118 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60602
Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday – Friday
Phone: (312) 603-5050
Fax: (312) 603-5063

Bridgeview Court Bldg.
Address: 10220 S.76th Avenue, Room 238, Bridgeview, Illinois 60455
Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday (recordings/purchases accepted until 4:15 p.m.)
Phone: (708) 974-6397
Fax: (708) 974-6399

Rolling Meadows Court Bldg.
Address: 2121 Euclid Avenue, Room 238, Rolling Meadows, Illinois 60008
Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday (recordings/purchases accepted until 4:15 p.m.)
Phone: (847) 818-2070
Fax: (847) 818-2074

Markham Court Bldg.
Address: 16501 S.Kedzie, Room 238C, Markham, Illinois 60426
Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday (recordings/purchases accepted until 4:15 PM)
Phone: (708) 232-4448
Fax: (708) 232-4368

By Mail

It’s possible to mail in an original document for recording, but you have to include a return mail address and a check or money order in the exact amount of the recording fee. The check must be made out to the “Cook County Recorder of Deeds.”
Mail your documents to the following address:

Cook County Recorder of Deeds
Recording Division
118 N. Clark Street, Room 120
Chicago, Illinois 60602

E-filing

Cook County does provide an electronic filing system, but according to the Recorder’s website, “if you only have one document to record, it will likely be easier for you to record it in person.” They claim this is because e-filing requires multiple software applications and an account with a third-party submitter. The website gives a list of three submitter companies you can choose from.
Frankly, the process seems very intimidating. So, if this is your first time or you don’t want to e-file claims on a regular basis, maybe you’re better off using the other two methods.

What is the recording backlog in Cook County?

Cook County officials don’t disclose that information publicly. But given the county’ size, it’s reasonable to assume that the Recorder’s Office is extremely busy. Cook County is the second-largest county in the US and includes the entire Chicago metropolitan area. Therefore, you should expect a long wait before your filing is processed, especially if you decide to send your documents by mail.

To make sure you don’t miss your deadlines, you can use the county’s e-filing system, which lets you submit your claim electronically in less than a day.

Should I file my mechanics lien in Cook County, or in another county?

You should file your mechanics lien in the county where your construction project is located. If the project is in Cook County, you will want to record your lien with the Cook County Recorder of Deeds.

What are the Cook County requirements for recording a mechanics lien?

To ensure that your lien rights are protected and that you get paid, you need to be aware of the basic requirements and deadlines that are applicable to contractors and subcontractors.

Your first step depends on whether or not the owner occupies the residence.

If the claim is on an owner-occupied residence, before you can file your claim, the owner of the house needs to be informed through a Notice of Intent.
The notice shall contain the name and address of the subcontractor or material man, the date he started to work or to deliver materials, the type of work done and to be done or the type of labor, services, material, fixtures, apparatus or machinery, forms or form work delivered or to be delivered.

If the owner-occupancy condition does not apply, you have to make a claim within four months of your last day of work. Since your project is located in Cook County, your claim needs to be filed in the office of the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. In your claim, you need to include the following details:

  • A statement of the work that you have performed
  • The date that you completed your work
  • The remaining balance after deducting any credits
  • The property’s description and Property Identification Number (PIN)
  • Names of the owners, the party who signed the contract, and any mortgagees listed on the property record.
    If you miss the four-month deadline, your lien is still effective against the original owner for two years from your last day of work, but other lenders, creditors, or contractors (if any) may take precedence over you.

Direct contractors are required to provide a written sworn statement to the owner before receiving their first payment. The amount due or that will become due to each party must be specified in the statement.

On the other hand, subcontractors have 90 days from their last day of work to give the owner a separate written notice, which must state the amount due or to become due. In addition to the property owner, all known lenders with mortgages on the property must be notified. Another 60-day notice is also necessary if the work was performed on a single-family owner-occupied residence.

Finally, if your lien is not satisfied, you have until two years of the last day of work to file a lawsuit to foreclose on the lien. Otherwise, you’ll waive your rights.

What are the margin & page formatting requirements to file a lien in Cook County?

You should print the standard form on sheets of paper that are 8.5 inches by 11.0 inches. The sheets should not be permanently bound nor on a continuous form. Moreover, on the first page, there should be a blank space measuring at least 3 inches by 5 inches from the upper right corner.

There should be a clean margin of ½ inches on all four sides of the document. The claim should be printed on white paper that weighs no less than 20 lb. Also, you’re not allowed to attach or staple anything to the document.

If your document does not meet these guidelines (other than plats of subdivision), you will have to pay double the flat recording fee.

How do I make payment to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds?

In addition to cash and most major credit cards, the CCRD accepts checks and money orders made payable to “Cook County Recorder of Deeds.”

How much does it cost to record a mechanics lien in Cook County?

Recording a Mechanic’s Lien and satisfaction or releases of Mechanic’s Lien or Assignments in Cook County cost $45 for documents of up to 4 pages.
There are also additional costs:

  • $1 for each additional page
  • $1 for each additional document number noted

Note that the fees are set by state law and county ordinance, not by the Office of the Recorder.

How can I get a recorded copy of my lien from the Cook County Recorder of Deeds?

Copies of your lien can be obtained in person, by mail, or online.

You can personally go to the Recorder’s locations in the city to receive certified or non-certified copies. The costs are different: non-certified copies are $10.00 for the first two pages, while certified copies are $20.00 for the first two pages. Each additional page costs $2.

You can have the office send you the copies by mail or UPS/FedEx. There are no additional costs, except for shipment.

Finally, you can visit CookRecorder.com to obtain your copies online. Only non-certified copies are provided online, and they cost $2.50 per document, plus credit card processing fees.

Do I have the right to file a mechanics lien in Cook County?

The State of Illinois is pretty broad about who is entitled to file a mechanics lien. Nearly all providers, whether direct contractors or subcontractors, can file a mechanics lien. These include architects, engineers, construction managers, and laborers.

However, if the materials or services are not “attached” or “used in” the construction, the contractor is not eligible for a mechanics lien.

What is the fee to file an Illinois Preliminary Notice in Cook County?

The cost depends on the number of notices that you need to send out. Moreover, different service providers offer different pricing packages, which may even include filing the preliminary notice for free. Overall, the fees range from $25 to $100.

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