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Can an unlicensed Handyman in California issue a mechanics lien

CaliforniaMechanics LienPayment DisputesRight to Lien

I am an unlicensed handyman doing work in California. I was hired by the homeowner to help fix his house after flood damage. I have issued him $8000 in invoices he claims he can’t pay me pay me because one of his accounts is frozen because of identity theft. This is a false statement since I’ve had identity theft and got it resolved quickly he’s been complaining about this ID theft for over three months. Can I issue him an intent to lien or and a mechanics lien for the money he owes me?

20 replies

Aug 14, 2018
I'm sorry that you have found yourself in this situation, it's always frustrating to be out money that you have earned and deserve. I'll try to provide some helpful information.

California is exceptionally strict regarding licensing requirements and the ability of unpaid construction participants to recover money owed. If a license is required for the work performed, an unlicensed contractor NOT ONLY cannot file a valid mechanics lien, but s/he also cannot file suit to recover, either. In California, unlicensed contractors are not entitled to be paid – period – for anything, and will be thrown out of court if they sue to get paid. Additionally, note that contracting without a license is a misdemeanor crime.

"Handyman" work is an exception to the license requirement - and a handyman laborer may be able to file a lien if unlicensed. However, there are very strict requirements for what qualifies as handyman work. Of specific importance is that California law states that an unlicensed handyman cannot charge more than $500 for a job. This pay includes both labor and cost of materials, and is not increased if more than one task is undertaken at the same time.

Finally, there are also strict timing requirements, and a mechanics lien in California. A mechanics lien for somebody who contracted directly with the property owner must be filed within 90 days from the end of the job.

I hope you are able to find a way to get paid.
10 likes
Dec 5, 2019
Our unlicensed contractor filed a mechanics lien on us. How do we get it removed? What do we do?
0 likes
Nov 21, 2020
An unlicensed handyman charged me $3,700.00 to remove popcorn ceiling, paint three rooms and replace eight 4x5 tiles on the bathroom wall. I think this is overpriced. Can he sue for payment?
0 likes
Mar 25, 2021
If a contractor is unlicensed, the contractor has no right to payment and, if a lawsuit is brought against the contractor, all compensation paid must be returned. I suggest you consider pursuing a small claims court action against the unlicensed contractor to get your money back, but keep in mind that an unlicensed contractor is unlikely to have significant assets to pay off a judgment.
3 likes
Jun 2, 2021
Can you take it to collection?
1 likes
Jul 29, 2021
You are a dick. If you agreed to pay someone to work for you, ca law doesn't make it morally ok for you to screw said person . Imagine if the shoe we're on the other foot and your kids needed new shoes and backpacks for school.
37 likes
Dec 9, 2021
Unlicensed subcontractor is suing unlicensed contractor for $10k. Unlicensed contractor already paid the subcontractor. Subcontractor used property owner to serve the unlicensed contractor without letting the owner know what was going on. (Owner found out he was actually serving the claim and 8 days before court day ) Should property owner worry that subcontractor might want to come after him/her for the $$?
0 likes
Feb 17, 2022
Doing this type of work is very hard work.. if you think its so expensive then why dont you do it yourself!!! watch a youtube video or some and do it!!! stop scamming ppl ..this type of work takes skills and expierience you cheapstake! how about i lowball your work I dont think you would like it
5 likes
Mar 3, 2022
Yes, he absolutely can sue you and file a mechanic's lien. He would very likely be successful in my opinion. His being unlicensed is a separate issue. He can get into some trouble for being unlicensed but probably not as much trouble as you for knowingly hiring an unlicensed contractor. Judges tend to not be very lenient to scumbags who hire people illegally and then refuse to pay them. He doesn't even have to be the one to report you to the labor board anyone can. If he gets hurt or suffers in any injuries from the work he did on your house you would be legally responsible. If that popcorn ceiling had any asbestos in it you would be legally responsible for any future effects to his health and you can be pursued criminally for any part in illegal disposal of it. Another thing to think about is an illegal contractor is obviously someone who has little regard for the law. He knows where you live and you are not going to pay him. This seems like a very unwise thing to do LOL. If I were you I would pay the man his money and never hire an illegal contractor again. And shame on you not just for hiring illegal workers but for being a scumbag and refusing to pay them. It's scumbags like you that Inspire lawyers and judges to obtain their positions so they can destroy scumbags like you.
11 likes
Apr 7, 2022
Situation: An unlicensed painter in CA painted for a customer. Customer was aware of the painter being unlicensed. Painter was in process of obtaining their C-33 Painting and Decorating licensing and had a scheduled test date. Is there an amount of time that the unlicensed painter can go back and take legal route to get payment from the customer and any other unpaying customers that were are of painter not beingice sed at the time?
0 likes
Apr 7, 2022
edit*** any amount of time the painter can go back and follow legal steps to get payment from the customer and any/all other customers refusing to pay knowing the painter was unlicensed?***
0 likes
Apr 11, 2022
My friend paid an unlicensed person that doesn't even have a company in cash to replace hardwood floor, can he still sue to get the money back since the work that the unlicensed person hired was not up to quality?
0 likes
Apr 22, 2022
It's so ridiculous to read these questions and comments. There are actually good workers out there who are not licensed. However, you take that risk when you hire an unlicensed person to do a job. If you're unsure, work beside them, check up on their work between segments if you're skeptical. Otherwise, don't complain and rip off an unlicensed contract. If you're going to be unhappy and find something to be upset about their work, mention it to them so they can correct it. Then pay them! If you wish to have the job done right the 1st time, then you should have hired a licensed contractor. Enough said!
3 likes
Apr 22, 2022
Why would he sue? He knew he hired an unlicensed contractor. He should have said something before paying the guy. Give him the opportunity to make right of his work. But suing an unlicensed contractor for work you later believe is not to their quality. They should have hired a licensed contractor in the first place.
1 likes
Apr 22, 2022
Why do you think people hire unlicensed individuals? There are workers out there that actually do a better job than some contractors. Some may have worked for a company under their license like those who are maintenance technicians /handymen at apartment communities. But knowing who you will be hiring licensed or not is ones' preference. Own up to your choices! Check up on the progress when a project is active. This way corrections and changes can be communicated timely to avoid mistakes. Don't be a scammer and troll. Taking an advantage to get a job done and dissing then because they are not licensed afterwards. That's lower than low. Shame on those who practice that method.
3 likes
May 3, 2022
No! You won't be successful with the court if you're not licensed you carry no authority over the work you provided.
0 likes
May 31, 2022
Pay them what you owe them or sue them in small claims court and ask a judge to adjudicate the lien.
0 likes
Jun 13, 2022
over priced ? that’s a lot of work …he should’ve charged you 4k flat , especially if he provided supplies
0 likes
Jun 25, 2022

My friend paid an unlicensed person that doesn't even have a company in cash to replace hardwood floor, can he still sue to get the money back since the work that the unlicensed person hired was not up to quality? i recently avoided download windows 11  

0 likes
Jun 25, 2022

My friend paid an unlicensed person that doesn't even have a company in cash to replace hardwood floor, can he still sue to get the money back since the work that the unlicensed person hired was not up to quality? i recently avoided download windows 10

0 likes

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