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20 day prelim filed 25 days after last day onsite (job 90% completed). 200 days later has filed claim of lien

ArizonaLien DeadlinesMechanics LienNotice of Intent to LienPreliminary Notice

As a homeowner, we signed contracts to have renovations to our house in Fall of 2019. Work technically began in Jan 2020, then ceased till April. Turns out the contractor had their license suspended for 3 months by the state during that time. In any case, work was provided off and on from late April till late July, though not complete per last contract signed mid May 2020. They submitted the 20 day prelim in mid August, about 25 days after last onsite date. About 190 days after prelim we have received a Notice of Claim of Lien. The "first provided services/materials date" is falsely filled with the date they were last onsite (late july, not Jan or even April when most work began). Do they have any legal standing? We believe they provided false info for the Notice of Claim so the agency would process it and bully us into an overpayment. A majority of the project was already paid for, and we would pay for what was provided but the asked amount is demonstrably more than services rendered. Thanks.

1 reply

Apr 2, 2021
The statutes governing lien deadlines in Arizona are strictly construed and require strict compliance for a contractor to be covered by their provisions. A.R.S. 33-992.01 permits a contractor to give notice of labor and materials being provided to a property but will only cover those labor and materials provided within twenty days prior to the notice and all subsequent labor and materials, up to 130% of the amount stated in the preliminary 20-day notice. This notice must be given timely in order for a contractor to secure lien rights. Assuming the facts of your situation are correct, a notice given 25 days after the date of the last labor or materials were provided by that contractor is baseless and invalid and will not cover any of the labor or materials provided more than 20 days prior to the notice. Further, under these facts, even if the preliminary 20-day notice was valid, it is possible that the lien itself was recorded untimely and therefore invalid. Pursuant to ARS 33-993, a claim of lien must be filed no later than 120 days after “completion” in order to be valid, unless a notice of completion is recorded - which reduces the deadline to 60 days after the notice of completion is recorded. “Completion” (for the 120-day deadline) is defined under the statutes as either 1) 30 days after final inspection and the issuance of a certificate of occupancy; or 2) cessation of labor for 60 days, unless caused by an act of God. “Completion,” however is not relative to an individual contractor on the job, but is tied to completion of all work under the contract. Thus, if one contractor completed their work in July, but the final contractor on the job under the same general contract did not finish until September, the timing under ARS 33-993 for completion would not begin running until September for both contractors. Under your provided facts, even assuming that the preliminary 20-day notice was valid, it is possible that the lien itself is untimely and therefore invalid since the lien was file 190 days after the last day that labor or materials were provided. Under the statute, even the longest deadline for filing a lien is 180 days (60 days after cessation of labor + 120 days for the lien filing deadline). Thus a lien filed 190 days after the last day that any work was done on the job by any contractor is past the lien deadline and is invalid. Recording an invalid lien in Arizona carries steep penalties. Under ARS 33-420, and person that causes a document to be recorded that is groundless, baseless or fraudulent must release the document within 10 days of demand, or they can be liable to the owner of the property for the greater of $5,000 or three times the actual damages incurred by the owner, as well as attorney’s fees and costs incurred in enforcing your rights. In order to determine whether the lien is invalid you would need to provide all relevant documents and discuss them with a qualified construction attorney, who can help you enforce your legal rights and remedies.
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