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A lien I filed in IL is being challenged for being filed past the deadline. Was it, and what can I do?

IllinoisLien DeadlinesMechanics LienRight to Lien

We are a prime contractor in IL and filed a lien on a customer who signed a contract on 1/28/2017 for custom / specially fabricated bath materials. Our contract gives the customer 3 days to cancel the job, but if they cancel past the 3 days, we will file a lien. This customer requested we hold off until April or May 2018, but ended up backing out of contract. No work was done on this project. We filed a lien through zlien on this project and it was recorded on 7/2/2018. Their attorney is saying that we missed our deadline to file, and we would like to know (a) if we missed the deadline, and (b) what our next steps should be.

1 reply

Sep 28, 2018
Deadline questions are some of the most common questions surrounding mechanics lien filings. While sometimes an answer can be pretty clear and straightforward, there are many, many ways in which the calculation of the deadline can be tricky and the answer not so clear-cut.

Illinois has a two-part deadline for mechanics liens. For parties who contract directly with the property owner, mechanics liens filed against the property prior to the expiration of the first deadline are valid and enforceable against the property owner and third parties, while mechanics liens filed after the expiration of the first deadline but prior to the secondary deadline are only enforceable against the "original" owner of the property when the work was furnished.

In order to meet the first deadline, and be effective against all parties, including subsequent purchasers, the lien must be filed within 4 months of the completion of the overall project.

In order to meet the second deadline, and be effective against the original owner only, the lien must be filed within 2 years of the completion of the last lienable work on the project.

Note, however, that this is the general rule where mechanics liens are the appropriate remedy. Illinois does not specifically contemplate "specially fabricated materials" not incorporated into the improvement as a separate category of work giving rise to mechanics lien protection.

If a mechanics lien is appropriate, the claimant contracted with the property owner, and the same property owner remains the owner of the property at issue, a mechanics lien may be filed up to two years after the completion of the project.

In the event that a mechanics lien is not the appropriate remedy, for whatever reason, there are alternative means to recover. These can include, collections, a lawsuit for breach of contract, potentially small claims court, or some other form of alternative dispute resolution.
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