In the spring of 2008, a Senate advisory committee in Georgia completed a report on the state’s lien laws and proposed a bill to make certain substantive changes to OCGA 44-14-361 et seq., which houses Georgia’s Mechanics lien laws.
The first paragraph of the report’s summary nicely explains the challenges facing legislatures when drafting and re-drafting lien laws:
The Lien Law Study Committee was born out of concern for homeowners coupled with respect to private enterprise. Indeed, there are frustrated and worried homeowners who have had liens filed against their real property despite the fact that these homeowners have paid in full for services rendered. Conversely, there exist disappointed, hard-working homebuilders, subcontractors, and suppliers who have provided goods and services yet have received no payment.
The bill – which is described as a “fair and balanced lien law” by the Georgia Lien Rights Coalition, was passed by the Georgia legislature earlier in 2008.
The bill (Senate Bill 374) will become law in Georgia on March 31, 2009. It’s important that contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, property owners and all others affected to understand the changes, as it can affect each’s Mechanics lien rights in Georgia.
Georgia Mechanics Lien General Changes:
- Lien Deadlines are worded in days instead of months. So, for example, instead of requiring a lien to be filed within an ambiguous “3 months,” liens must now be filed 90 days from labor, services or materials last supplied to the property;
- Day Counting is now more consistent with Georgia law. If a deadline falls on a weekend or public holiday, it will be extended to the next business day. Previously, the deadline would be moved up to the preceding business day.
- Definitions are clarified.
Changes that Benefit Suppliers or Subcontractors
- Notice of Bond to Remove Lien: Previously, a property owner could bond out a lien without ever notifying the subcontractor or supplier. The new rules close this loophole by requiring property owners to notify lien claimants that the lien has been bonded off the property.
- Deadlines: All deadlines in the Georgia lien laws are made clearer by the new bill. Here are some important deadline changes:
- Liens must be filed within 90 days from labor, services or materials last supplied to the premises (previously 3 months);
- Notice of Lien filing must be sent to property owner within 2 business days from filing of the claim of lien;
- Lien must be perfected within 365 days from when lien filed (previously 1 yr from labor, services or materials last supplied);
- Notice of lawsuit to perfect lien must be delivered to the owner within 30 days (previously 14 days).
Changes that Benefit General Contractors and Homebuilders
- Prior law was inconsistent and confusing as to whether general contractors or homebuilders were required to receive copies of filed liens. The new law states that when a “Notice of Commencement” is filed on the project, the general/homebuilders must receive notice of the lien.
- The Lien Waiver Forms have been made more clear, with bold, capital letters explaining what the waiver means. This is important as Georgia is 1 of 12 states with required forms for the lien waiver to be valid.
Georgia Mechanics Lien Law Changes that Benefit Property Owners
- New Notice of Contest: Owners can now send a “Notice of Contest” to contractors who file a claim of lien. The notice sets forth that the Owner contests the debt, and requires that a lawsuit to perfect the lien be filed within 60 days. If a suit is not filed within the 60 day period, the lien is invalidated.
- Expiration Date on Lien: The new rule requires that the Claim of Lien itself include a statement as to when it expires.
Levelset continues to monitor the lien law changes in Georgia, as it does in every state. When the new rules go into effect on March 31, 2009, all Levelset forms will be updated to meet the new requirements.
Our service prepares and files Claims of Lien for contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers throughout the state of Georgia. We also send Notices of Lien to the interested parties, can prepare and send Notices of Contest for Georgia property owners, and prepare and file lawsuits to perfect your construction liens.
Save your company time and money, and ensure that your Georgia liens are filed professionally with Levelset.