Iowa Mechanics Lien Requirements
Iowa’s mechanics lien law sets specific requirements that unpaid construction parties must follow in order to file a mechanics lien claim.
Iowa mechanics lien law statutes allows for broad coverage, including any party who performed any labor on “any building or land for improvement, alteration or repair thereof, including those engaged in the construction or repair of any work of internal or external improvement, and those engaged in grading, sodding, installing nursery stock, landscaping, sidewalk building, fencing… by virtue of any contract with the owner, the owner’s agent, trustee, contractor, or subcontractor.”
Equipment renters and those who supplied off-site materials (if the off-site work is necessary for the delivery of labor or materials) to the site are all eligible for lien rights just as long as the work is called for in the contract. Architects, engineers, surveyors, and interior designers are not mentioned and it is a gray area if they are covered.
Sub-sub-subcontractors (and parties further down the chain) do not have lien rights.
In Iowa, the deadline to file a mechanics lien is 90 days from the last furnishing of labor or materials to the project. However, unlike most states, a potential lien claimant in Iowa is allowed to file a lien after the 90 day period, provided notice is served to the owner.
While filing an untimely lien is allowed, a lien filed past the 90 day period is only effective against the funds unpaid to the general contractor.
Sending an Iowa preliminary notice is a requirement depending on the type of project and contractor role.
Prime contractors need to provide notice to the property owner on an owner-occupied residential project to identify subcontractors or suppliers.
Subcontractors and laborers on an owner-occupied residential project must provide notice to the owner when starting work.
On non-residential projects, sub-subcontractors and material suppliers must provide notice to the general contractor within 30 days of furnishing to the project.
To perfect a mechanics lien in Iowa, it must be filed electronically through the Secretary of State Office Mechanic’s Notice and Lien Registry (MNLR). Preliminary notices can be filed through the system as well.
When a claimant files through Iowa’s MNLR, it will ask for the project information, such as the project type (commercial or residential), address, dollar amount owed, and the tax parcel ID number.
Enforcing the lien
A mechanics lien doesn’t last forever. If unpaid, Iowa claimants must take action to enforce their lien within 2 years from the date of recording.