New Mexico Mechanics Lien Guide and FAQs

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New Mexico Mechanics Lien Overview

New Mexico

Preliminary Notice Deadlines
None


Send Your Notice

New Mexico

Mechanics Lien Deadlines
120 Days

Lien must be filed within 120 days from project completion.


File A Lien Fast

New Mexico

Enforcement Deadlines
2 Years

An action to enforce a New Mexico mechanics lien must be initiated within 2 years from lien's filing. This deadline may not be extended, and missing the deadline renders the lien unenforceable.

New Mexico considers initiating an arbitration action sufficient to meet this deadline, as well as initiating a foreclosure action.

New Mexico

Preliminary Notice Deadlines
60 Days

Preliminary notice must be given when: 1) The claimant does not contract directly with the property owner or the general contractor; AND 2) The claim is for more than $5000; AND 3) The project is NOT on a residential property with less than 4 dwellings.


Send Your Notice

New Mexico

Mechanics Lien Deadlines
120 Days

Lien must be filed within 120 days from project completion.


File A Lien Fast

New Mexico

Enforcement Deadlines
2 Years

An action to enforce a New Mexico mechanics lien must be initiated within 2 years from lien's filing. This deadline may not be extended, and missing the deadline renders the lien unenforceable.

New Mexico considers initiating an arbitration action sufficient to meet this deadline, as well as initiating a foreclosure action.

New Mexico

Preliminary Notice Deadlines
60 Days

Preliminary notice must be given when: 1) The claimant does not contract directly with the property owner or the general contractor; AND 2) The claim is for more than $5000; AND 3) The project is NOT on a residential property with less than 4 dwellings.


Send Your Notice

New Mexico

Mechanics Lien Deadlines
120 Days

Lien must be filed within 120 days from project completion.


File A Lien Fast

New Mexico

Enforcement Deadlines
2 Years

An action to enforce a New Mexico mechanics lien must be initiated within 2 years from lien's filing. This deadline may not be extended, and missing the deadline renders the lien unenforceable.

New Mexico considers initiating an arbitration action sufficient to meet this deadline, as well as initiating a foreclosure action.

Contractors & suppliers have strong lien rights in New Mexico. If a contractor or supplier isn’t paid on an New Mexico job, they can turn to filing a lien to speed up payment and protect themselves. However, there are specific requirements and rules that must be followed.  Here are 5 essential things you need to know about New Mexico’s mechanics lien law.

1) Contractors Must Be Licensed to File a Valid New Mexico Mechanics Lien

New Mexico mechanics lien protection is pretty broad. Licensed contractors, subcontractors, as well as material and equipment suppliers that have participated in the contributed to the construction, alteration or repair of a property are all entitled to mechanics lien rights. While design professionals including surveyors, architects, and engineers all have lien rights as well, the design plans must be used in order to file.

However, New Mexico has strict licensing requirements. If the claimant is required to have a license by the Construction Industries Licensing Act, the claimant must be licensed in order to claim a lien.  Further, an unlicensed contractor may not be able to file suit to recover any money owed even without the protection of a lien.  And finally, if a contractor is unlicensed it may be possible for the property owner to request a return of the money already paid.

2) Be Aware of Two Different Deadlines to File Depending On Project Tier

There are two different deadlines to file a mechanics lien in New Mexico. For general contractors, the deadline to file a mechanics lien is 120 days from the completion of the project. Subcontractors, and other parties without a direct contract with the property owner, only have 90 calendar days from the completion of the project in which to file a New Mexico mechanics lien.

While it is not required that a copy of a New Mexico mechanics lien be sent to the property owner after recordation, a party without a direct contract with the property owner may send notice of the lien to the property owner in an attempt to eliminate a possible defense that the owner has paid the full contract amount to the general.

3) New Mexico Has Very Specific Preliminary Notice Requirements

The conditions in which preliminary notice are required in New Mexico are very specific. New Mexico only requires a preliminary notice to be sent under certain conditions. Preliminary notice must be given when: 1) The claimant does not contract directly with the property owner or the general contractor, AND 2) The claim is more than $5000, AND 3) The project is NOT on a residential property with less than 4 dwellings.  All other parties are not required to send preliminary notice but may send a notice of intent to lien if desired, in an attempt to facilitate payment.

When required, a preliminary notice must be sent within 60 days of the first date that service or materials were provided on a project.

4) Attorney’s Fees May Be Awarded in Lien Foreclosure Action – But Only to Successful Claimant

While not included in the mechanics lien document itself, attorney’s fees will be awarded to a lien claimant in a successful enforcement action. Interestingly, the award of attorney fees in a successful enforcement action may not be reciprocal to the property owner in New Mexico. If the property owner is successful in defeating the mechanics lien claim in a foreclosure action, the unsuccessful lien claimant may not be held liable for the property owner’s attorney’s fees.

5) A Legal Property Description Is Not Required

A legal property description is not required when filing a mechanics lien in New Mexico. Instead, the lien simply needs to include a description “sufficient for identification” of the property. Clearly, a full legal description is sufficient to identify the property, and if available, may be used. As a guideline, the description should be sufficient for a stranger to identify the property (at the exclusion of other properties). In the case of residential property, a municipal street address may be sufficient to identify the property for the purposes of filing a New Mexico mechanics lien.


New Mexico Mechanics Lien FAQs

Contractors, suppliers, property owners, construction lenders, and other vendors will encounter all kinds of lien-related paperwork and questions when working on New Mexico construction jobs. Here are some of the common issues you may encounter, and answers written by construction attorneys and payment experts.

Lien FAQs

Who can file a New Mexico Mechanics Lien?

New Mexico provides mechanics lien protection to “every person performing labor upon, providing or hauling equipment, tools or machinery for or furnishing materials to be used in the construction, alteration or repair of”  a construction project. Protection in New Mexico is fairly broad. Other parties entitled to a mechanics lien are architects and engineers (if the plans are used), design professionals, and surveyors.

Suppliers to suppliers are not entitled to claim a mechanics lien in New Mexico.

If the claimant is required to be licensed by the Construction Industries Licensing Act, the claimant must be licensed in order to claim a lien.

When is the deadline to file a New Mexico Mechanics Lien?

In New Mexico, parties who contracted directly with the property owner must file their mechanics lien within 120 days after the completion of the project. Claimants who do not have a contract directly with the property owner must file a mechanics lien within 90 days after completion of the project. Note that this time period runs in consecutive calendar days.

Do I need to send notice the Lien was recorded?

No. In New Mexico, service of a copy of the lien on the property owner is not required. The filing of the lien in the public records constitutes sufficient notice to any party with an interest in the property. However, any party without a direct contract with the owner may send a copy of the lien to the owner, if so desired, in an attempt to eliminate a possible defense that the owner has paid the full contract amount to the general.

Can I include Attorney's Fees, collection costs, or other amounts in the Lien total?

Not really. The proper amount of a mechanics lien in New Mexico is the amount agreed to or set forth in the contract – with all just offsets and credits. However, it is allowable to note in the lien that attorney’s fees and interest are also claimed (just not a set amount already added to the lien total). Attorney’s fees will be awarded to the successful lien claimant in a foreclosure action. Interestingly, the award of attorney fees may not be reciprocal to the property owner in this state. That is, if the property owner is successful in defeating the lien in a foreclosure action, the lien claimant may not be held liable for the attorney’s fees of the property owner.

When is the deadline to enforce a New Mexico Mechanics Lien, or, how long is my Lien effective?

In New Mexico, a mechanics lien filed by any party remains an encumbrance on the property for a period of two years. If an action to enforce the lien has not been initiated within two years from the date on which the lien was filed, the lien is extinguished. New Mexico considers either a foreclosure action or a commencement of binding arbitration as an action to enforce the lien. However, there are many thorny issues for the lien claimant to consider if arbitration is considered.

Will my New Mexico Lien have priority over pre-existing mortgages or construction loans?

No. New Mexico follows a “first-in-time” rule when determining priority between mechanics liens and other encumbrances on the property. In order to determine time for these purposes, mechanics liens – no matter when recorded – relate back to the commencement of the project. [Or, it may relate forward to the commencement of the project in the case of a surveyor. For purposes of priority, a mechanics lien filed by a surveyor has the same date as any other mechanics lien, despite the fact that the work was presumably done prior to the commencement of physical work on the project.] Any other encumbrance to the property has priority over the mechanics liens if it was recorded prior to the commencement of work on the project, and is subsequent to the mechanics liens if it was not.

Among competing mechanics liens, priorities are ranked by tier: 1) parties other than original contractor or subcontractor; 2) subcontractor; 3) original contractor. Each tier is paid in full before moving to the next tier. If there are insufficient funds to fully pay a tier, that tier is paid a pro-rata amount, and the next tier is not paid.

Must the New Mexico Lien include a legal property description?

No. In New Mexico, a mechanics lien requires a description of the property to be charged with the lien “sufficient for identification.” While a legal description would always be sufficient, it is not necessary for a valid lien. The property should be identified such that it allows identification of the property by strangers, and does not identify other property. In the case of residential lots, merely a street address may be sufficient.

Must the New Mexico Lien be notarized?

Yes. New Mexico requires a mechanics lien to be notarized in order to be valid.

Can I file a New Mexico Lien if I'm unlicensed?

No. New Mexico has strict licensing requirements. If the claimant is required to have a license by the Construction Industries Licensing Act, the claimant must be licensed in order to claim a lien. Further, an unlicensed contractor may not be able to file suit to recover any money owed even without the protection of a lien. And finally, if a contractor is unlicensed it may be possible for the property owner to request a return of the money already paid.

Can I file a New Mexico Lien on a condominium project?

Yes, a mechanics lien may be filed against a project involving a condominium, provided the lien claimant would otherwise have valid mechanics lien rights.

Who cancels the New Mexico Lien if/when I get paid?

New Mexico does not specifically provide who must undertake the cancellation of the lien if/when the lien claimant gets paid. However, generally, a payment after a mechanics lien is filed is in consideration of the lien claimant cancelling or reducing the lien amount.

What are the Lien Waiver Rules?

New Mexico does not have statutory lien waiver forms; therefore, you can use any lien waiver form. Since lien waivers are unregulated, be careful when reviewing and signing lien waivers.

New Mexico state law is unclear or silent about whether contractors and suppliers can waive their lien rights before any work on the project begins. Accordingly, you want to proceed with caution on this subject.

To learn more about lien waivers, see our New Mexico Lien Waiver FAQs and Resources.

New Mexico Mechanics Lien Free Forms

Want to just fill out the New Mexico mechanics lien form yourself and get it filed? Download an easy-to-fill-out mechanics lien document template for free. All Levelset documents are created and curated by construction attorneys and payment experts.

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New Mexico Mechanics Lien Form

When unpaid on a construction project, parties who provided labor and/or materials to it may file a Claim of Lien in New Mexico. Fill out...

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New Mexico Mechanics Lien Statute FAQs

The provisions of the New Mexico statutes that permit the filing of mechanics liens and materialman’s liens can be found in New Mexico’s Construction Lien Law, N.M.S.A. § 48-2-1 et. seq. The full text of the New Mexico Construction Lien Law is provided below, and has been updated as of 2011.

New Mexico's Mechanics Lien Statute

§ 48-2-1. Lien - Defined

A lien is a charge imposed upon specific property, by which it is made security for the performance of an act.

§ 48-2-2. Mechanics and Materialmen; Lien; Labor, Equipment, and Materials Furnished; Definition of Agent of Owner

Every person performing labor upon, providing or hauling equipment, tools or machinery for or furnishing materials to be used in the construction, alteration or repair of any mine, building, wharf, bridge, ditch, flume, tunnel, fence, machinery, railroad, road or aqueduct to create hydraulic power or any other structure, who performs labor in any mine or is a registered surveyor or who surveys real property has a lien upon the same for the work or labor done, for the specific contract or agreed upon charge for the surveying or equipment, tools or machinery hauled or provided or materials furnished by each respectively, whether done, provided, hauled or furnished at the instance of the owner of the building or other improvement or his agent. Every contractor, subcontractor, architect, builder or other person having charge of any mining or of the construction, alteration or repair, either in whole or in part, of any building or other improvement shall be held to be the agent of the owner for the purposes of this section.

§ 48-2-2.1. Procedure for Perfecting Certain Mechanics' and Materialmen's Liens

A. The provisions of Subsections B through D of this section do not apply to claims of liens made on residential property containing four or fewer dwelling units, to claims of liens made by an original contractor or to claims of liens made by mechanics or materialmen who contract directly with the original contractor. For purposes of this section, “original contractor” means a contractor that contracts directly with the owner.

B. No lien of a mechanic or a materialman claimed in an amount of more than five thousand dollars ($5,000) may be enforced by action or otherwise unless the lien claimant has given notice in writing of the claimant’s right to claim a lien in the event of nonpayment and that notice was given not more than sixty days after initially furnishing work or materials, or both, by either certified mail, return receipt requested, facsimile with acknowledgement or personal delivery to:

(1) the owner or reputed owner of the property upon which the improvements are being constructed; or

(2) the original contractor, if any.

C. If the owner or the original contractor claims lack of notice as a defense to the enforcement of a lien described in Subsection B of this section, the owner or contractor shall show that upon the request of the mechanic or materialman that the owner or contractor furnished to the lien claimant not more than five days after such request was made:

(1) the original contractor’s name, address and license number, if there is an original contractor on the project;

(2) the owner’s name and address;

(3) a description of the property or a description sufficiently specific for actual identification of the property; and

(4) the name and address of any bonding company or other surety that is providing either a payment or performance bond for the project.

D. The notice required to be given by the claimant pursuant to the provisions of Subsection B of this section shall contain:

(1) a description of the property or a description sufficiently specific for actual identification of the property;

(2) the name, address and phone number, if any, of the claimant; and

(3) the name and address of the person with whom the claimant contracted or to whom the claimant furnished labor or materials, or both.

E. A person required by the provisions of Subsection B of this section to give notice to enforce the person’s claim of lien may elect not to give the notice, but may give the required notice at a later time. If the person elects to do so, the lien shall apply only to the work performed or materials furnished on or after the date thirty days prior to the date the notice was given. The provisions of Subsections C and D of this section apply to any notice given under this subsection.

§ 48-2-3. Improvement of City or Town Lot or Street; Lien on Lot

Any person who, at the request of the owner of any lot in any incorporated city or town, grades, fills in or otherwise improves the same, or the street in front of, or adjoining the same, has a lien upon such lot for his work done and materials furnished.

§ 48-2-4. Lien Covers Improvements and Land

The land upon which any building, improvement or structure is constructed, together with a convenient space about the same, or so much as may be required for the convenient use and occupation thereof, to be determined by the court on rendering judgment, is also subject to the lien, if at the commencement of the work, or of the furnishing the materials for the same, the land belonged to the person who caused said building, improvement or structure to be constructed, altered or repaired, but if such person owned less than a fee simple estate in such land, then only his interest therein is subject to such lien.

§ 48-2-5. Preference Over Other Encumbrances

A. The liens provided for in Sections 48-2-1 through 48-2-17 NMSA 1978 are preferred to any lien, mortgage or other encumbrance which may have attached subsequent to the time when the building, improvement or structure was commenced, work done or materials were commenced to be furnished; also to any lien, mortgage or other encumbrance of which the lienholder had no notice and which was unrecorded at the time the building, improvement or structure was commenced, work done or the materials were commenced to be furnished.

B. Liens filed by registered surveyors shall have priority equal with other mechanics’ and materialmen’s liens, but work performed by registered surveyors shall not constitute the commencement of construction.

§ 48-2-6. Time for Filing Lien Claim; Contents

Every original contractor, within one hundred and twenty days after the completion of his contract, and every person, except the original contractor, desiring to claim a lien pursuant to Sections 48-2-1 through 48-2-19 NMSA 1978, must, within ninety days after the completion of any building, improvement or structure, or after the completion of the alteration or repair thereof, or the performance of any labor in a mining claim, file for record with the county clerk of the county in which such property or some part thereof is situated, a claim containing a statement of his demands, after deducting all just credits and offsets. The claim shall state the name of the owner or reputed owner, if known, and also the name of the person by whom he was employed, or to whom he furnished the materials, and shall include a statement of the terms, time given and the conditions of the contract, and also a description of the property to be charged with the lien, sufficient for identification. The claim must be verified by the oath of himself or of some other person.

§ 48-2-7. Claims Against Two or More Buildings or Improvements; Statement of Amount Due; Loss of Preference

In every case in which one claim is filed against two or more buildings, mining claims or other improvements owned by the same person, the person filing such claim must at the same time designate the amount due to him on each of such buildings, mining claims or other improvements, otherwise the lien of such claim is postponed to other liens. The lien of such claimant does not extend beyond the amount designated as against other creditors having liens, by judgment, mortgage or otherwise, upon either of such buildings or other improvements, or upon the land upon which the same are situated.

§ 48-2-8. Recording of Liens; Indexing; Fees

The county clerk shall make a record of a claim that shall be indexed as deeds and other conveyances are required by law to be indexed and for which the county clerk may receive the same fees as are allowed by law for recording deeds and other instruments. Any claim, the form of which complies with the requirements of Chapter 48, Article 2 NMSA 1978, shall be entitled to be filed of record.

§ 48-2-9. Petition to Cancel Lien; Security

A. The owner of any building, mining claim, improvement or structure subject to a lien under Sections 48-2-1 through 48-2-17 NMSA 1978 or an original contractor having a contract with that owner may petition the district court for the county in which the property or a part of it is located for an order canceling the lien.

B. Upon the filing of the petition, the district court judge shall examine the lien claimant’s recorded demands and determine an amount sufficient to satisfy the recorded demands and any other damages, court costs or attorney fees that may be recovered by the lien claimant. Security, in the amount set by the judge and of a type approved by the judge, shall be deposited by the owner of the property or original contractor with the district court conditioned on the payment of any sum found to be validly due to the lien claimant. An owner or original contractor may not provide a single security for the cancellation of the lien of more than one claimant.

C. When the security is deposited under this section, the judge of the district court shall immediately issue an order canceling the lien and shall notify the county clerk with whom the lien was filed. Upon the recording of the order, the county clerk shall mark the filed lien as canceled. When an order is issued under this subsection, the claimant’s lien attaches to the security and is enforceable as to the security in the district court in which it is deposited to the same extent as any other lien provided for in Sections 48-2-1 through 48-2-17 NMSA 1978.

§ 48-2-10. Limitation of Action to Enforce

No lien provided for in Sections 48-2-1 through 48-2-17 NMSA 1978 remains valid for a longer period than two years after the claim of lien has been filed unless proceedings have been commenced in a court of competent jurisdiction or in binding arbitration within that time to enforce the lien. A contingent payment clause in a contract shall not be construed as a waiver of the right to file and enforce a mechanic’s or materialman’s lien pursuant to Sections 48-2-1 through 48-2-17 NMSA 1978.

§ 48-2-10.1. Repealed by L. 1989, Ch. 301, § 13, eff. June 16, 1989

§ 48-2-10.1. Repealed by L. 1989, Ch. 301, § 13, eff. June 16, 1989

§ 48-2-11. Construction with Knowledge of Owner Subjects Land to Lien; Notice of Owner by Nonresponsibility

Every building or other improvement mentioned in the second section of this article, constructed upon any lands with the knowledge of the owner or the person having or claiming any interest therein, shall be held to have been constructed at the instance of such owner or person having or claiming any interest therein, and the interest owned or claimed shall be subject to any lien filed in accordance with the provisions of this article, unless such owner or person having or claiming an interest therein shall, within three days after he shall have obtained knowledge of the construction, alteration or repair, or the intended construction, alteration or repair, give notice that he will not be responsible for the same, by posting a notice in writing to the effect, in some conspicuous place upon said land, or upon the building or other improvement situated thereon.

§ 48-2-12. Contractor Liable for Liens of Subcontractors

The contractor shall be entitled to recover upon a lien filed by the contractor only such amount as may be due to the contractor according to the terms of the contract, after deducting all claims of subcontractors under the contractor who have filed liens for work done and materials furnished, and during the pendency of the action, the owner may withhold from the contractor the amount of money for which the lien is filed unless the lien was asserted as a result of the owner’s failure to pay the contractor for work done and materials furnished, and in case of judgment against the owner or the owner’s property upon the lien, the owner shall be entitled to deduct from any amount due or to become due by the owner to the contractor the amount of the judgment. If the amount of the judgment exceeds the amount due by the owner to the contractor, or if the owner settles with the contractor in full, the owner shall be entitled to recover back from the contractor any amount paid by the owner, in excess of the contract price, and for which the contractor was originally the party liable.

§ 48-2-13. Rank of Liens; Order of Payment

In every case in which different liens are asserted against any property, the court in the judgment must declare the rank of each lien, or class of liens, which shall be in the following order, viz:

A. all persons other than the original contractors and subcontractor;

B. the subcontractors;

C. the original contractors.

And the proceeds of the sale of the property must be applied to each lien, or class of liens, in the order of its rank, and whenever, on the sale of the property subject to the lien, there is a deficiency of proceeds, judgment may be docketed for the deficiency in like manner, and with like effect as in actions for the foreclosure of mortgages.

§ 48-2-14. Joinder of Actions; Attorney Fees; Costs

Any number of persons claiming liens may join in the same action, and when separate actions are commenced, the court may consolidate them. A prevailing party in a dispute arising out of or relating to a lien action is entitled to recover from the other party the reasonable attorney fees, costs and expenses incurred by the prevailing party.

§ 48-2-15. Materials Exempt from Attachment or Execution for Purchaser's Debts

Whenever materials shall have been furnished for use in the construction, alteration or repair of any building or other improvement, such materials shall not be subject to attachment, execution or other legal process, to enforce any debt due by the purchaser of such materials, except a debt due for the purchase-money thereof, so long as in good faith the same are about to be applied to the construction, alteration or repair of such building, mining claim or other improvement.

§ 48-2-16. Personal Action for Recovery of Debt Not Affected

Nothing contained in this article shall be construed to impair or affect the right of any person to whom any debt may be due for work done or materials furnished to maintain a personal action to recover such debt against the person liable therefor.

§ 48-2-17. Contractors; Workmen's Compensation Insurance Premiums; Rights Against Performance Bond

Unpaid premiums or charges for the furnishing of workmen’s compensation insurance furnished to any contractor or subcontractor, who is required by the terms of his contract or by law to obtain and carry such insurance, shall be and is hereby defined to be material furnished to the contractor or subcontractor for use in the performance of the contract, and the person, firm or corporation so furnishing the same shall have the same rights and remedies against any performance bond given in connection with such contract as if the workmen’s compensation insurance so furnished were physical property, and as though a lien had been filed against the improved premises, but shall have no lien against the improved premises.

§ 48-2-18, 48-2-19. Repealed by L. 1981, Ch. 352, § 2

§§ 48-2-18, 48-2-19. Repealed by L. 1981, Ch. 352, § 2

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