Contractors & suppliers have strong lien rights in Washington DC. If a contractor or supplier isn’t paid on an Washington DC 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 Washington DC’s mechanics lien law.
1) An Adequate Legal Property Description is Required
The criteria for an adequate legal description varies greatly across the country, but Washington DC tends to fall on the stricter side of the spectrum. Because of this, it’s best to include both the street address and the legal property description as listed in the most recent deed. This generally includes descriptions of the lot, subdivision, and recording information.
2) A Copy of Your Business License is Required
If you’re a business legally operating in DC, that means you must have a license issued by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. If your business isn’t in the District and is required to be licensed, you’ll still need to provide a license issued by the government or jurisdiction where your business is located. Be careful here, because the DC recorder can be very particular about this document. Simply listing your license number and other pertinent information may not be enough to get your lien recorded. To avoid any hold ups, attach a physical copy of your business license to your mechanics lien claim.
3) A Certificate of Good Standing is also Required
The Certificate of Good Standing is another document that DC businesses can obtain from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and it must have been issued within 180 days prior to filing your lien.
For businesses doing work in the District that are based elsewhere, the requirements are murkier: you’ll need to show your company is in good standing with a certificate issued by the state or jurisdiction where your business is located.
4) Your Home Improvement Contract is also Required
This requirement only applies to work provided under a home improvement contract, that is, home improvement work done on a residential property under a written agreement in a form that has been approved by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. (Are you noticing a pattern here?)
If you’re uncertain if your project falls into this category, you can always include your contract as an additional attachment. When it comes to making a lien claim, including more attachments than you need is better than falling short. Better safe than sorry!
5) Don’t Forget to Sign on the Dotted Line
As is the case with most of the states, you must sign and notarize your DC lien claim. If you’re using an authorized agent or service such as zlien to assemble and submit your lien for filing, you’ll need to provide a signed document granting their authority to sign on your behalf.