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After winning a judgement in Small Claims Court, how long does the plaintiff have to remove the Mechanics Lien and Lis Pendens?

CaliforniaMechanics Lien

A painting contractor put a Mechanics Lien and Lis Pendens on my "unfinished damaged home". He sued me in small claims court, I countered and won both judgements on 12-14-18. He has not removed the Mechanics Lien nor the Lis Pendens clouding my title as of 3-29-19. He also did not file the foreclosure of Mechanics lien lawsuit in regular court, rather sued me for monetary in small claims court. Is this Mechanics Lien valid? If I won the judgement, is it not mandatory they remove them, if so how long do they have to remove them?

1 reply

Apr 3, 2019
These are good questions. First, it's worth noting that winning an action in small claims court over a mechanics lien claimant will not automatically result in the claimant's release of the mechanics lien claim. As you'd mentioned above, once a mechanics lien is filed, generally, one of the next steps is to enforce that lien claim in court. But, bringing an action independent of a lien claim - such as an action in small claims court - is not the same thing, and the specific issue of the lien claim itself will generally not be broached (though, the underlying debt giving rise to the lien claim might be). But, in a situation where a property owner has won an action in small claims court over a lienor, that owner will likely be able to leverage that victory into the release of the lien. This might be done in a few ways. The simplest and easiest way to have a mechanics lien released is to convince the lien claimant to release the lien themselves. Offering to not-pursue legal claims against the lienor in exchange for their release of the lien might be enough to get them to release the lien. Alternatively, threatening to take further action against a lienor might also convince them to release their lien. If a claimant won't release their own lien, a property owner can always petition the court to have the lien released due to the lien being invalid, unenforceable, erroneous, or even downright fraudulent. In a situation where an owner has already won a judgment against the lienor based on the debt that gave rise to the lien claim - seemingly, it should be relatively easy to have a filed lien removed from the property. This is especially true when the deadline to enforce the lien has already passed. For more information on California lien claims (including the California lien statutes), this resource should be helpful: California Lien & Notice Overview and Statutes.
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