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Can a pool maintenance service company hired by a tenant place a lean on the property?

CaliforniaMechanics LienRight to Lien

The tenant did not pay the pool guy for maintenance services for a total of $600 - invoices were under the tenant's name. Tenant's lease contract ended a month ago so he left. Now, the pool guy wants to put a lean on the house if we, the property owners, don't pay him. Can the pool guy do that?

1 reply

Jul 10, 2019
Good question. First, before analyzing the right to lien, it's worth mentioning that mechanics liens can typically be filed regardless of whether there's a valid basis for the filing. County recorders' offices typically have neither the bandwidth nor the authority to investigate and turn away specific lien claims based on the claim being made. However, when lien claims are made on an improper basis, they can typically be challenged and the lien claimant may even be liable for damages in situations where the lien is clearly baseless.

Now, as for whether they actually are entitled to lien, that's another question altogether. Generally, mechanics lien rights are available to those who provide labor or materials that permanently improve real property. Work that doesn't provide a substantial, lasting improvement to property - such as regular maintenance - will typically not give rise to lien rights. And, when a claimant files a mechanics lien that doesn't have a valid basis, such a lien could typically be challenged and removed from the property.

As for preventing someone from filing a lien - that can be a little trickier. It might be possible to fend off a lien claim by sending a demand letter that contains legal threats that will be executed if the property is liened. By sending such a letter through an attorney, a lien claimant might be scared off from pursuing a lien filing. Further, under CRS § 38-22-129, there may be an opportunity to post a payment bond to prevent a lien filing from attaching to the property. Though, this can be expensive, and under that section of the lien statute, the bond should be posted before work begins and it should be posted by the prime contractor (not an owner). Still, it may be an option. And, if a lien is ultimately filed and the owner needs to clear their property title, then bonding off the lien will be an option.

With all of the above being said, keep in mind that negotiating with a lien claimant might be the fastest and cheapest way to deal with a potential lien claim - even where proper lien rights don't exist. If it seems like a lien will be filed, typically, efforts to fight off a lien filing or to remove a filed lien will cost more than a few hundred bucks and will create a lot of headaches.

Here's an additional resource I think will be valuable: I Just Received a Notice of Intent to Lien – What Should I Do Now?
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