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can I file a mechanics lien?

CaliforniaMechanics LienRight to Lien
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Anonymous contractor
Nov 21, 2020

I am sub contract working on project customer is not returning my calls or emails. they have 4 projects totaling $10K but each have differnt last worked days?

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Anonymous contractor
Nov 21, 2020

Is your customer the general or the owner or someone else?

Who has four projects going? Are you a sub on each of them?

Did you send your preliminary notice or can you prove the owner has actual knowledge of your work?

Sorry for the 20 questions, but I need more detail to provide a helpful answer.

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Anonymous contractor
Nov 21, 2020
My contract is with the general contractor i am a sub on each if them i did file a pre kien with each of them
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Anonymous contractor
Nov 21, 2020

If your work is done or the general has fired you or told you they won't pay, then you can record your lien. If they are just non-responsive and in breach of your paymet terms, you should send them a formal demand for payment with a specific deadline for payment. Then after that deadline you can record a lien.

Timing matters. If you record it too early then it doesn't count.

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Anonymous contractor
Nov 21, 2020
What if it’s been more than 90 days
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Anonymous contractor
Nov 21, 2020

As a sub you have until 90 days after completion of the whole job or 30 days after the owner records a notice of completion or cessation to record your lien. If you are past those times then you are looking at a breach of contract case against whoever you had your contract with. For a written contract you have four years from breach to sue.

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Anonymous contractor
Nov 23, 2020
You must have first sent a Preliminary Notice to the general contract, the owner, and the lender (if any) to have lien rights on the project. If you didn’t, you can send a Preliminary Notice now but it will only cover work done within 20 days before the notice, and then all work done after that time. You also need to make sure that you’re still within the lien period. A subcontractor has 90 days from substantial completion of the project (not just your work but the entire project) to file a lien. That time is shortened to 30 days if a Notice of Completion was recorded (these are mostly found on public jobs). I’m happy to answer any questions you have on this.

Cathleen M. Curl, Esq.
Law Office of Cathleen M. Curl
T 650-871-5955
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Anonymous contractor
Nov 23, 2020

First, if you've provided a permanent improvement to these properties but haven't been paid for that work, then mechanics liens would likely be in play. Further discussion here: Who can file a mechanics lien in California? Keep in mind that, because mechanics liens are so effective, the simple threat of a lien claim will often lead to payment: What is A Notice of Intent to Lien And Should I Send One? 

Note, however, that when work is being done at different properties, separate mechanics lien claims would likely be necessary for each property. This is because a lien claim stakes a claim against the specific property which was improved - and one claim generally can't be made against properties in different locations. And, the timeframe for each claim would depend on the completion date of that project (and not simply the last date you worked there). Here's a good breakdown on the difference between those dates: What’s the Difference Between Date of Last Furnishing and Date of Substantial Completion? 

Fnally, keep in mind that subcontractors hired by someone other than the owner will generally need to send a preliminary notice in order to preserve the right to file a mechanics lien. And, if the notice wasn't timely sent, lien rights won't be on the table. This page breaks down those requirements: California Preliminary Notice Rules & FAQs.

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