January 1, 2013 is rapidly approaching, and with it, the changes to North Carolina Mechanics lien law set forth by HB 1052 will go into effect.  Accordingly, North Carolina lien claimants must start to get familiar with these new requirements.  The first lien law revision that we will examine here on the lien blog mandates which parties are required to be served with a copy of the lien claim.  Current North Carolina law only requires a Claim of Lien on Real Property to be filed in the office of the clerk of superior court in the county in which the property is located – there is no current requirement that the lien must also be served on any particular project participant.  This stands in stark contrast to the current requirements of a Claim of Lien on Funds, which is not required to filed at all, and instead is only required to be sent to the parties “up-the-chain” from the lien claimant.

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As we noted on this blog a couple months ago, the changes set forth by HB 1052 as related to the service of a Claim of Lien on Real Property work to, in a sense, combine the old requirements for a Claim of Lien on Real Property with the old requirements for a Claim of Lien on Funds.  Starting on January 1, 2013 a lien claimant must not only file the Claim of Lien on Real Property in the office of the clerk of superior court of the county in which the property is located, but must also serve the lien claim on the property owner (and, if the lien claimant is a sub-contractor, on the general contractor, as well).

This change is immensely important because the lien is not perfected until both filing and service occur.  Accordingly, after January 1, 20113, if the lien claimant fails to serve the property owner within the required time period, his lien claim is not perfected — and cannot be enforced.  It is also tremendously important to recognize that the time in which the lien must be both filed and served is the same.  That means that the lien must be filed and served on the owner (and general contractor) no later than 120 days after the claimant last furnished labor and/or materials to the project.  Sufficient methods for service as outlined by the new statute include: personal delivery, USPS, DHL Express, Federal Express, or UPS.  Further, it is expressly stated that proof of actual delivery is not required, and that the service is complete when deposited for delivery, (or when personally delivered if that method is chosen).

This is an important change to North Carolina’s lien law scheme, and requires another action by the lien claimant in order to perfect a lien on real property.  That being said, the new requirement is not too involved, and is easy to carry out.  Make sure you are all up-to-date on the coming North Carolina lien law changes by continuing to check in with the lien blog.