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Scott Wolfe Jr

CEO Levelset

Answered 2 months ago

Liens do not go before a judge automatically or immediately. Liens get filed with some recording office. For construction liens, the lien is typically recorded in a county recorder office or clerks office. This creates a security right that might one day go before a judge. A judge sees and makes decisions about lien claims when either: (i) The right has to be "enforced" or "foreclosed" upon, such as what happens when a lien is filed but payment still does not come, whereby the claimant must move forward to enforce the lien; or (ii) The lien is challenged, such as what happens when the party who is on the other side of a lien challenges it as invalid or inappropriate.

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Nate Budde

Chief Legal Officer Levelset

Answered 4 days ago

That's a great question, let's take a look.

Generally in California, only one preliminary notice is required. Unlike Arizona, in which n additional notice can be required if the project exceeds the initial scope, California has more of a "send it and forget it" type of requirement - especially with respect to changes to the amount of work. But what about if new information becomes available?

California preliminary notices to the property owner should be given: "at the person’s residence, the person’s place of business, or . . . the owner’s address shown on the direct contract, the building permit, or a construction trust deed." If a preliminary notice is given to the owner at one of those addresses, it is compliant with California requirements - and since there is no requirement to provide additional preliminary notices in California - getting a "new" address doesn't trigger a new notice requirement. California law specifies that "a claimant need give only one preliminary notice to each person to which notice must be given under this chapter with respect to all work provided by the claimant for a work of improvement." If the notice wasn't sent to one the above addresses and wasn't actually received by the property owner, then the question of whether to send to the new address is slightly different.

California requires that preliminary notice be given to the lender in order to be valid. And, while the direct contractor is technically obligated to provide sub-tier parties with the name and address of the construction lender, there is not really any specific consequence for not doing so. Also, if a loan is obtained after the work began, "the owner shall give notice of the name and address of the construction lender or lenders to each person that has given the owner preliminary notice."

When the information is not provided by the direct contractor or property owner, however, there is at least some California case law that provides a further obligation to inquire into the identity of a construction lender. Romak Iron Works v. Prudential Ins. Co. 104 Cal.App.3d 767, (1980) held that a claimant may not solely rely on a representation by the general contractor for purposes of determining a construction lender, and that that the claimant had a duty to inspect the building permit and the construction trust deed for the listing of the lender’s name and address.

When the identity of the lender is determined, a preliminary notice should likely be delivered, as a failure to comply with the preliminary notice rules (that require notice to be provided to the construction lender, if any) prohibits the potential claimant form filing a valid and enforceable lien, if it becomes required.

If you still have a desire to read about California preliminary notices after all that, some FAQs and information at-a-glance can be found on the California preliminary notice page of Levelest's Learning Center, and a in-depth look at CA prelim requirements can be found in our Ultimate Guide to California's 20-day Preliminary Notice.

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Matt Viator

Legal Associate Levelset

Answered 9 hours ago

I'm sorry to hear about that. It sounds like you may be working on separate houses in a development, so I'll steer my answer in that direction. But, note that if work was performed on completely separate properties that are separately owned, then multiple liens might be necessary - and that would mean the lien deadlines would run from the work performed on each specific house.

Regarding a development...
When several different properties are owned by the same owner and have not yet been subdivided - like with a large development project or even some small neighborhood developments - that property may only require one mechanics lien if construction payments are owed but unpaid. If that's the case, and if only one lien would be necessary, then there would only be one lien deadline and that'd be 90 days after the last furnishing of labor and materials to the project, overall.

But, in a situation where properties are obviously separately owned, or where a developer has divided the property into multiple separate lots, then multiple lien filings may be necessary. If that's the case, then each property would have it's own, separately calculated mechanics lien deadline.

For a little more information, these resources should be helpful:
(1) Getting Paid on a Project with Multiple Properties
(2) South Carolina Mechanics Lien and Notice Overview, FAQs, and Statutes
(3) How to File a South Carolina Mechanics Lien.

43 Answered Questions

Alex Benarroche

Legal Associate Levelset

Answered 3 days ago

Good question. It’s important to get preliminary notices right in order to secure your lien rights in case something goes wrong on the project. Thankfully, the California preliminary notice requirements and deadlines are pretty straightforward.

As a sub-subcontractor, preliminary notice is a requirement to maintain mechanics lien rights. Besides preserving lien rights, preliminary notices are meant to inform those who do not have a contractual relationship who is working on the project. Sub-subcontractors are required to send notice to (1) the property owner, (2) the general (or prime) contractor, and (3) the construction lender if there is one on the project. There is no need to send notice to the hiring sub, since there is already a contractual relationship, and they are aware that you are working on the project.

Keep in mind that these should be sent within 20 days of first providing materials or labor to the project. Missing the deadline isn’t fatal to your lien rights. A late notice can still be valid, but it will only cover labor and materials provided in the preceding 20 days.

Another important thing to remember is that in some cases, failure to send a preliminary notice in California can get you fined by the CA Contractors’ State Licensing Board. For any construction contract over $400, this is an absolute requirement. Failure to do so constitutes grounds for disciplinary actions.

For further information regarding California preliminary notices, some FAQs and info at-a-glance can be found on the CA Preliminary Notice page of Levelset’s Learning Center. And for a detailed look at all of the requirements can be found in our Ultimate Guide to California’s 20-day Preliminary Notice.

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Andy Mau

Attorney Smiley Law Firm

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Matt Thomas

Attorney Smiley Law Firm

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Seth Smiley

Owner Smiley Law Firm

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