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Are we able to file a lien on a property we serviced but have not been paid for those services?

CaliforniaMechanics LienPayment Disputes

We had been servicing a very large property for years. The property was managed by a 3rd party and bills were sent to a different address. They regularly paid several months behind (rack up 3-5 months of invoices and pay one lump sum). However, the most recent period became very long and we were unable to contact the account manager. We found that the owner got into some legal trouble and probably had no intent to pay for services. It has been several months since we did any service, and we were wondering if there is any legal recourse to recoup money owed to us form service does on this property? We also have equipment on the property which we have been unable to retrieve. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

1 reply

Mar 16, 2018
Unfortunately, a mechanics lien will likely not be an available remedy in this situation - there may be a number of issues preventing a mechanics lien in this situation. While there are questions as to whether the work performed was lienable work and whether preliminary notice requirements were followed, the lien deadline has likely passed anyway. Claimants who are not under direct contract with an owner must file a lien within the earlier of either: 90 days after completion of the work of improvement; or, 30 days after the owner records a Notice of Completion or Cessation. Of course, just because a mechanics lien is not available does not mean that there is no way to recover sums owed. First, a threat to file a mechanics lien can be incredibly helpful in spurring payment. We've found that a Notice of Intent to Lien can help - even where there's question as to whether lien rights would ultimately be available. Next, a letter demanding payment can be sent, and sending such a letter through an attorney, along with the threat of legal action, may also be an effective measure. Finally, litigation or making a claim in small claims court are also an option. Depending on the amount that's owed here, hiring an attorney familiar with construction and contract law would be a great help in this situation - they'll be able to review the circumstances surrounding your dispute and help decide options best suited for your situation. Plus, they'll be able to advise you on which route to take.
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