Guide to filing a mechanics lien in Harris County

If you need to file a mechanics lien with the Harris County Clerk, you most likely have strong and comprehensive lien rights. However, Texas has some of the most complicated and confusing lien laws in the county, making it all too easy to slip up and make a mistake when filing. One of the most important things you need to do before filing a lien claim on a construction project is read up on Texas lien law to make sure you get everything right. Here are a few of the unique rules regarding mechanics liens and preliminary notice requirements in Texas:

  1. If you’re not contracted directly to the property owner, you must submit monthly recurring notices. Additionally, there are six different types of notices, and you need to send the right ones at the right times to protect your lien rights.
  2. The requirements for homesteads are different from the requirements for ordinary residences. If you’re contracted directly with the homestead owner, the rules are relatively straightforward. However, if you aren’t directly contracted with the homestead owner, you must trust the GC to fulfill their requirements in order to retain your lien rights.
  3. Mechanics lien deadlines in Texas are confusing. Lien claimants typically need file mechanics liens by the 15th day of the 4th month after the last month in which they furnished labor or materials for a project. And it isn’t always that simple.

Texas lien law is seriously complex, and we recommend you dedicate some time to familiarize yourself with them. Take a look at our Texas Lien Law guide and FAQ to get a better idea of the rules that apply to you.

Harris County is the biggest county in Texas, and you need to make sure you get everything right the first time to ensure the process is as quick and easy as possible. Texas’s lien laws aside, researching Harris County’s recording requirements, margin and page size requirements, fees, and other relevant information will help you avoid getting rejected and having to start from the beginning, prolonging the recording process even more. This page includes everything you need to get started with the recording process by providing you with useful information about the Harris County Clerk’s Office.

The construction industry in complicated, and there’s no such thing as too much research. If you need more information about which lien documents you need or the Texas mechanics lien process in general, refer to our step-by-step guide to Filing A Texas Mechanics Lien.

Where is the Harris County Clerk's Office that files mechanics liens?

There are 11 offices under the Harris County Clerk of Court. They are:

Downtown
201 Caroline St., 3rd Floor
Houston, TX 77002
(713) 274-8600

Baytown Annex
701 W. Baker Rd.
Baytown, TX 77521
(281) 422-0253

Chimney Rock Annex
6000 Chimney Rock Rd.
Houston, TX 77081
(713) 660-7902

Clay Road Annex
16715 Clay Rd.
Houston, TX 77084
(832) 927-7230

Clear Lake Annex
16603 Buccaneer Ln.
Houston, TX 77062
(281) 486-7250

Cypresswood Annex
6831 Cypresswood Dr.
Spring, TX 77379
(281) 379-1057

Humble Annex
7900 Will Clayton Pkwy.
Humble, TX 77338
(281) 540-1173

North Shepherd Annex
7300 N. Shepherd Dr.
Houston, TX 77091
(713) 697-5193

Pasadena Annex
101 S. Richey St.
Pasadena, TX 77506
(713) 274-6230

South Belt Annex
10851 Scarsdale Blvd.
Houston, TX 77089
(713) 274-6918

Wallisville Annex
14350 Wallisville Road, Suite 111
Houston, TX 77049
(713) 274-6925

To find out which office best suits your needs, refer to the Harris County Clerk’s Contact Page.

What is Harris County's Recording Backlog?

Hard to say, but probably long. County backlogs can be long, and Harris mail-filing backlog is notoriously long.

The Harris County Clerk does not publish how long their mail backlog is…but you can get a small hint by looking at how long it takes to get something recorded even in person! Here is how they describe this period:

All courier services, third-party representatives, attorney services and messengers must drop off Deeds, Deed of Trust, Leases, and Notice of Default submitted for recording. Documents will be ready for pick-up within 3 business days.

An examiner will review submitted document for proper completion, collect the appropriate fees and taxes, and record your document. The original document will be mailed to you within 4 to 6 weeks (after we complete the process of adding your document to our database for archival retention).

Yikes!

Make sure you send your mechanics lien by in-person delivery or courier. Mailed liens are not immediately recorded and can face waits of more than 8 weeks before they are processed or returned in Harris.

Should my mechanics lien be filed in Harris County, or some other county?

If the project is located in Harris county, then yes, you will want to record your lien with the Harris County Clerk’s office.

What are Harris County's requirements for recording a mechanics lien?

Harris County publishes a long list of requirements for document recording, but only a few of the items apply to mechanic’s lien claims. Here are those items.

1. The property must be located in Harris County. (C.C. § 1169)

2. The document must be authorized or required by law to be recorded. (G.C. § 27201)

3. Signatures must be original unless the document is a certified copy issued by the appropriate custodian of the public record. (G.C. § 27201b, G.C. § 27279, Evidence Code § 1530)

4. Include the name of the party requesting the recording and a name and address where the document can be returned. (G.C. § 27361.6)

5. The document must be properly acknowledged, unless exempt. Texas requires an (all-purpose acknowledgement). (G.C. §27201, 27289, 27285, 27287, 27288; C.C. § 1189)

6. Documents must be clearly legible in order to produce a readable photographic record. This pertains to the document text, notary seals, certificates and other attachments, such as legal descriptions. (Gov. 27361.7)

7. Include the recording fees.

What are the margin & page size requirements to file a lien in Harris County?

Paper Size: All documents must be on regular letter-sized paper: 8.5 by 11 inches. Other page sizes incur additional recording fees.

Margin: Except for the first page (see below), a minimum of 0.5 inches must be left blank on all sides of the document.

First Page:: 2.5 inches of margin must be left at the top of the first page.

On the left 3.5 inches across, put the name and address of the party requesting the recording, and the address where the document is to be returned following recording.

The remainder of this space (the right 5 inches) is reserved for use by the Registrar-Clerk to enter the official recording information.

Use A Cover Sheet If First Page Does Not Comply: If the first page of a document does not comply with these legal requirements, attach a separate page to the front of the document that meets these spacing criteria and which includes the title or titles of the document. Download the Harris County Clerk’s Cover Sheet here, if needed.

How can I make payment to the Harris County Clerk?

Harris county has many payment options, including payment by cash, credit, and check. However, this depends on whether you’re recording something by mail or in person.

Payment Options for In-Person Recording

• Cash

• Debit/Credit Cards: American Express®, Discover®, MasterCard® or Visa®. Note that an additional $1.75 service fee will be added to your purchase when paying with a debit/credit card.

• Check or Cashier’s Check. Note that valid identification (i.e., driver’s license) of the signer is required and must be presented at time of recording. Out-of-state checks are accepted, but temporary and foreign checks are not accepted. Checks should be made payable to the _Registrar-Clerk/County Clerk._

Payment Options for Recording by Mail

Check, Cashier’s Check or Money Order: Make payable to the _Registrar-Clerk/County Clerk._ Out-of-state checks are accepted, but not temporary or foreign checks.

If you are unsure of the fees, submit a blank check indicating on the Memo field “NOT TO EXCEED $[fill in amount].”

Send documents and payment to:
Diane Trautman, Harris County Clerk
Harris County Clerk’s Office
P. O. Box 1525
Houston, TX 77251-1525

What are the filing fees to record a mechanics lien in Harris County?

The Harris County Clerk’s “base fee” to file a mechanics lien is $95, and includes 1 page. Each additional page costs $3.00.

If your document does comply with margin and print requirements, you may also be charged one of the following penalties:

Nonconforming Fee: $3 per page that is not 8.5 by 11 inches in size (not to exceed 8.5 by 14 inches).

Penalty Print: $1 for each page where penalty print appears, which is defined as “wording added to the printed form that is spaced either more than nine lines per vertical inch, has more than 22 characters and spaces per inch measured horizontally, for not less than three inches in one sentence.”

Indexing Fee: If your lien mentions more than 10 names that must be indexed, you will be charged $4 for each additional group of 10 names.

Fees to obtain a copy
There are also fees charged to get a copy back from the Clerk.

Conformed Copy: Free
Certified Copy: $6 first page, $3 additional
Plain Copy: $5 first page, $3 each additional.

How do I get a recorded copy of my lien from Harris County's Clerks Office?

At the time of recording you can purchase a certified copy from the county (fees above). In this case the county will make a copy for you, and certify it.

You can also bring your own copy of the original document to the county when you record it, and they will stamp it to look just like the original. This is called a “conformed” copy and is not certified. It is free to get 1 conformed copy. Each additional is $5.00 for the first page and $3.00 for each additional page.

Other than at the time of recording, requesting a Certified Copy of your recording in-person can only be done at the following office:

Harris Registrar-Clerk/County Clerk
Real Estate Records
201 Caroline St., 3rd Floor
Houston, TX 77002
(713) 274-8600

To do this by Mail:

Diane Trautman, Harris County Clerk
Harris County Clerk’s Office
P. O. Box 1525
Houston, TX 77251-1525

To do this online:
https://www.cclerk.hctx.net/applications/websearch/Home.aspx.

Which courier(s) can help me file a mechanics lien in Harris County?

There are many courier services in Harris. We recommend DDS Legal Services for courier services to the Harris county Clerk’s office.

Do I have the right to file a mechanics lien in Harris, Texas?

Determining whether you do or do not have a mechanics lien right can be tricky. Generally speaking, every state gives those who have furnished labor and/or materials to a construction project the right to file a mechanics lien if unpaid for the furnishing. The same is true in Texas. However, there are some state-specific limitations as to who is qualified to file a mechanics lien that is important when considering whether you have the right to file a mechanics lien in Harris County, Texas.

Great and detailed information about this is available on our Texas Mechanics Lien Resources Page.

When is the deadline to file a lien in Harris?

In Harris County, Texas, your deadline to file a mechanics lien is dependent upon your role in the project. A direct contractor must record his claim of lien after completion of the direct contract, and either ninety (90) days after completion of the work of improvement, or sixty (60) days after the owner records a Notice of Completion or Cessation; whichever is sooner.

A claimant other than a direct contractor must record his mechanics’ lien after the claimant ceases to provide work, and either: ninety (90) days after completion of the work of improvement,or, thirty (30) days after the owner records a Notice of Completion or Cessation; whichever is earlier.

What is the fee to file a Texas Preliminary Notice in Harris County?

The filing fee to record and file a Texas preliminary notice in Harris is $64. While you can file a Texas preliminary notice in Harris, there is a question of whether you should.

We explored this in the Ultimate Guide to Texas’s Preliminary Notice, as well as in response to this question in our Expert Center: Am I required to record – or should I record – a Texas preliminary notice?.

Since filing a Texas prelim offers very little benefits, but is quite costly, it’s probably a good idea to NOT file it. And you don’t need to. You only need to send it. More about that on our guide and FAQs area, all linked to above.

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