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Can I file a liens mechanic?

CaliforniaMechanics LienPreliminary Notice
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Anonymous contractor
Nov 19, 2020

Im a general contractor who finished work on a residential home. I finished the work last month & sent my final invoice on 10/8/20. The contractor who hired me has not provided a payment update & has several invoices that are past due ranging from 30-60 days past due. The total amount owed to me is $10,200.00. Can I file a lien on the property & is that the best option to collect?

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Anonymous contractor
Nov 19, 2020

Mechanics liens are typically the best way to protect payments on a construction project. Under California lien law, in order to have the right to file a mechanics lien, a preliminary notice may be required. I'm a little confused as to your role on the project, so I'll break down both.

  • General contractors (those hired directly by the owner) aren't required to send notice, unless there is a lender on the project. 
  • If, however, you were hired by someone other than the property owner, you'd be considered a subcontractor. Subcontractors must send notice before filing a lien.  

The preliminary notice should typically be sent within 20 days of first furnishing labor and materials to the project for full protection. This can be sent late, but will only cover the value of labor and materials provided 20 days prior to the notice, and everything thereafter. For more on this, see: The Ultimate Guide to CA's 20-Day Preliminary Notice 

If you've complied with your notice requirements, then a lien is available and must be filed within 90 days of completion of the project. For more on this, see: How to File a California Mechanics Lien | A Step-by-Step Guide. 

However, if a mechanics lien is unavailable, you can still file a lawsuit based on breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and claims under the California Prompt Payment Act against your hiring party. You should reach out to a local attorney to explore these options, we have some California-based attorneys in our Levelset Community that may be able to help. Good luck! 

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Anonymous contractor
Nov 21, 2020

If you filed the preliminary lien notice or the owner had actual knowledge of your work it sounds like you are within your time to record a lien. You then have 90 days to sue to foreclose on it. You can also sue the general for breach of contact.  

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