Can a property owner sue in small claims court for the ammount of the lien to force me to remove the lien?

12 months ago

I was hired by a property mgt company in Washington State to build a deck on a property they managed. I provided an estimate that stated that the job would proceed on time and materials. upon completion the invoice was more then the estimate because of increased scope of work. The mgt company said I did a great job but the property owner refused to pay the additional cost. I have never had any contact with the property owner. I filed a lien against the property as my only option. The property mgt company says they are not responsible because they were acting as an agent of the property owner.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is not legal advice and should not be construed as such. Rather, this content is provided for informational purposes. Do not act on this information as if it is advice. Further, this post does not create any attorney-client relationship. If you do need legal advice, seek the help of a local attorney.
Senior Legal Associate Levelset
136 reviews

I’m sorry to hear about that. First, it’s worth noting that an owner could certainly try and sue a lien claimant in small claims court in attempt to challenge the validity of the lien. However, based on § 60.04.081(1) of the Washington mechanics lien statute, it would seem more appropriate for an owner to challenge a filed lien as frivolous in superior court (i.e. a trial court) rather than in small claims court. Further, simply because an owner wants to challenge the validity of a filed lien doesn’t mean the lien is flawed and it doesn’t mean the lien must or will be automatically removed. In fact, it’s often an owner’s knee-jerk reaction to challenge a lien. zlien discusses that idea here: My Lien Was Challenged — What Do I Do? Regarding the property management company claiming nonresponsibility – whether or not they may be held responsible may depend on the exact relationship between the parties involved, as well as whether the actions a property management takes vs. what they’re entitled to do under their relationship with the property owner. Ultimately, though, it’s worth noting that it could be helpful to discuss the matter with whomever increased the scope of work on the project. If the price overrun was a direct result of an increased scope of work, presumably, the party who increased that scope of work should understand that it would cost additional funds – and they might be able to discuss the matter more civilly and/or talk to the owner about why the price has increased.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is not legal advice and should not be construed as such. Rather, this content is provided for informational purposes. Do not act on this information as if it is advice. Further, this post does not create any attorney-client relationship. If you do need legal advice, seek the help of a local attorney.
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