If my General contractor signs a lien waiver is there a period of time after where they can still file a lien? how long is this period?
May 22, 2020
Yes - it's possible that a contractor could sign a lien waiver and then file a mechanics lien afterwards. First, note that Tennessee doesn't have any sort of required lien waiver forms. So, it's possible that the lien waiver language allows for liens to be filed for some period after - like in Georgia (more on that below).
Further, generally, are multiple types of mechanics lien waivers. If the contractor signed a conditional lien waiver and wasn't paid, then the contractor could absolutely file a mechanics lien if they aren't paid for their work. Or, even if the contractor submitted an unconditional lien waiver - if they didn't waive all of their rights, then it's possible some lien rights could still be on the table.
Now, if you're asking whether a contractor can sign an unconditional lien waiver then ultimately decide to file a lien on those amounts designated in the waiver - generally, the answer is "no" in Tennessee. But, if you've obtained a lien waiver from your contractor but they haven't gotten paid for the work included in the waiver, it's possible that their lien could be effective.
Georgia's weird lien waiver rules
Finally, since Georgia and Tennessee happen to be neighboring states - keep in mind that the situation you described in your question could certainly take place in Georgia. Georgia mechanics lien waivers will only become fully effective 60 days after they're submitted. So, a contractor could submit a Georgia lien waiver then still be able to file a lien claim for 60 days after.
You can get a full rundown of how those lien waiver rules work here: Georgia’s Very Unusual Rules for Mechanics Lien Waivers.