Are contractor employees the “Laborers” allowed to put a Mechanic’s Lien on real property?
I’m a consumer who had a licensed contractor install a new roof an solar on my house. Before signing and throughout the project I’ve told them verbally and in writing that I would require a lien release from the contractor, subcontractors, suppliers, AND everyone who worked on my house. From the California State Licensing Board website I’ve read that “Laborers” can put a mechanic’s lien on my property if not paid, and that I should require a lien release from all Laborers. The problem is that now the prime or direct contractor is trying to say that employees are NOT “Laborers” and that the lien release signed by the direct contractor, subcontractors, and suppliers covers their “employees” who are NOT “laborers” and thus cannot file a mechanics lien. My question, under California’s mechanic’s lien law are contractor “employees” “Laborers” who can file a mechanics lien?
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Legal Associate Levelset
As far as the lien waivers are concerned, first a quick clarification. The industry tends to confuse waivers and releases because they are inconsistently used state-to-state. For the purposes of California a “lien waiver” is collected when payments are distributed, a “lien release” is the act of canceling or removing an already filed lien claim. Now, just because a GC has signed and submitted a lien waiver, doesn’t mean owners are off the hook for any outstanding amounts owed to the sub-tier parties such as subcontractors, suppliers, and laborers. Lien waivers should ideally be collected from all parties. It's important to keep in mind that CA has strict lien waiver requirements. The specific language and form requirements can be found in CA Civil Code §8132-8138. However, you can also find additional resources and free downloadable templates at California Lien Waiver Forms & Guide.
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