The California mechanics lien law has always required claimants to deliver a copy of any filed liens to the property owner. Prior to the recent 2012 amendments, however, there was very little detail about how and when to do this. With the recent changes, California’s mechanics lien law is now pretty specific on these points, but it appears some people are still are confused. This post will break down the statute’s new California lien service requirements. Then I will discuss how California lien services and software can help you get paid faster while filing fewer liens, and also ensure that any necessary liens are served correctly.
You Only Need To Serve A Copy Of The California Mechanics Lien Claim Once
You may look at this heading and think “Duh!” Laugh not, however. A competitor of ours – Tradition Notice Services – recently posted on its blog that “California Mechanics Lien requires sending copy before and after recording.” I strongly disagree with this and think it is bad information.
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If it somehow ambiguously suggested that a double delivery was required, I would be extraordinarily surprised if the court read that ambiguity to require a double sending, as this would be overly burdensome and not in line with the legislature’s intentions. The new service requirement is found within California Civil Code Article 8416.
The requirement at all times states that the property owner or reputed owner must be served a “copy of the mechanics lien,” and never suggests that it must be a filed and recorded copy of the lien. Nor does the statute explicitly state that the lien must be served on the owner more than once.
If it somehow ambiguously suggested that this was required, I would be extraordinarily surprised if the court read that ambiguity to require a double sending, as this would be overly burdensome and not in line with the legislature’s intentions.
No such ambiguity exists, however. §8146(a)(7) merely requires that proof of service be signed by the person “serving a copy of the mechanics lien,” and the statute’s (c) provides that “a copy of the claim of mechanics lien…shall be served on the property owner.”
Therefore, so long as a mechanics lien claimant serves the property owner with a copy of the claim before recording, the affidavit of service could be included and all is right with the filing.
Want to learn more about the lien process in California? Click the button below to download our comprehensive California Mechanics Lien Guide that contains the information and forms you need to secure and enforce lien rights in California.
Since Service Is Effective Upon Mailing You Can File The Mechanics Lien Claim And Affidavit Of Service Immediately After Or Simultaneously With Mailing A Copy To The Owner
I think the new law has confused some people (and attorneys) because it requires “proof of service” upon filing, which makes one susceptible to over-thinking the situation with something like this: how to you serve something before it is filed while also proving that you served it in the filing?
Again, however, this is over-thinking the law’s requirement.
California’s mechanics lien statute requires claimants merely serve “a copy of the claim of mechanics lien” upon the property owner or reputed owner. As above discussed, this means you can send a copy of an unfiled claim to the owner and meet the statutory requirements. The next question is when you are authorized to file your lien claim, as the lien claim must include an affidavit that the service has been accomplished.
To figure this out, you must know what constitutes service. Is it when the mail piece is received by the property owner or when you send it to the property owner? In California, the answer is that “[s]ervice of the copy of the claim of mechanics lien….is complete at the time of the deposit of that first-class, certified or registered mail.”
Accordingly, if you put the piece of mail into the postal system properly addressed and postage prepaid, you have accomplished statutory service. The end. Put it into your affidavit and send the sucker off for recording. No confusion required.
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California Lien Services and Software
California requires that lien claimants send preliminary notice in order to protect lien rights and the ability to file a mechanics lien in the event of nonpayment. Keeping up with requirements and deadlines for notices and liens is time consuming, especially for companies with a high volume of projects or companies that perform work in multiple states. Using a lien services software can significantly cut down on time spent handling these processes, and reduces the risk of human error. Want to see how a California lien services software could help your business? Get in touch with levelset and we will show you how our platform enables you to send unlimited notices.
Click the button below to get a demo of the levelset platform and learn more about our California lien services.