Am I protected?

CaliforniaRight to Lien

I filed a prelim on a project where it looks like I may need to Lien...1.) I had the wrong address because the sub gave it to me wrong. 2.) I originally put $20,000 as an estimate and it ended up being $100,000(we tried to update) 3.) Z lien never found the GC so they were not notified on the original notice 4.) am i going to be able to file a lien on this project if I had the wrong address and the GC was never notified because Z lien never found it, but still sent it to my client(sub contractor) and the owner of the property

1 reply

Aug 29, 2018
I'm sorry to hear about that. In California, preliminary notice must be sent to both the owner and the GC in order to preserve a claimant's right to file a mechanics lien. However, a subcontractor is not required to receive notice - so failure to provide preliminary notice to a subcontractor should have no effect on whether a claimant is entitled to file a mechanics lien. But the fact remains that preliminary notice is required to be sent to the general contractor. Under § 8200(c), compliance with the California preliminary notice requirements are a prerequisite to filing a lien claim, so failure to provide notice to a general contractor may render an eventual lien claim invalid. However, a claimant may still be able to leverage lien rights by sending a Notice of Intent to Lien. As we discuss in this article: A Notice of Intent to Lien May Be Enough To Get You Paid. Sending a Notice of Intent to Lien to your customer, to the general contractor, and to the property owner will often go a long way to speeding up payment. Further, filing a mechanics lien can still lead to payment, even when there may be a flaw in the claim. Mechanics liens are an incredibly powerful tool for recovery, and the potential outcomes of a lien filing are so drastic that owners and contractors take these claims very seriously. So, when a lien claim is filed, typically those parties are willing to come to the table to talk payment. At the very least, they will likely put pressure on the non-paying party to make things right. Plus, the risk of filing an invalid might not be all that high. When a claimant has gone unpaid and made an effort to comply with the California lien requirements, filing a flawed mechanics lien will typically not rise to the level of a fraudulent lien. There's a difference between fraud and an honest mistake. If an owner, contractor, or other party makes a fuss about a potential error in a lien claim, a claimant can always release their lien. Finally, regardless of whether a lien claim is pursued, there are a number of other options to recover payment if a lien claim is not on the table. For one, sending a demand to the non-paying party can go a long way. Demand letters sent containing specific threats of legal action can go a long way to compel payment, especially when sent through an attorney. Regarding specific theories of recovery via suit - when a claimant has performed work and gone unpaid, a breach of contract action may be a potential route for recovery. Further, California's prompt payment laws specify a timeline for when payment should be made, and if that timeline is not adhered to a claimant may be entitled to interest penalties and attorney fees upon legal action. Finally, if threatening legal action is ineffective, actually filing suit or potentially going to small claims court might be options.
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