can i file Lien? I did not send preliminary notice in march on a verbal contract

4 months ago

i worked on a verbal contract in santa monica after 5 months work they fired me without pay. now i want to send notice and file lien

Senior Legal Associate Levelset

That’s a good question, and it’s one we get often here at the Expert Center.

In California, most construction businesses must send a preliminary notice in order to later file a mechanics lien. Specifically: any party (other than a laborer) who was hired by someone other than the property owner must send a notice to both the owner and the prime contractor. When hired directly by the property owner, a contractor will only need to send a preliminary notice to the lender, if one is present on the job. In both cases, a preliminary notice must be sent within 20 days of first performing work. Sending notice late will still be partially effective, though. Late notice will preserve the right to lien for any work done within the 20 days before sending the notice, as well as any work done after. If a claimant is required to send a preliminary notice but fails to do so, that claimant will not be able to file a valid and enforceable lien claim later on in the project.

Another consideration to keep in mind is the deadline to file a California mechanics lien. In California, the lien deadline will depend on whether the lien claimant was hired directly by the property owner or hired by someone else – like a contractor.

-For direct contractors: the deadline will be either: (1) 90 days from the completion of the project; or (2) 60 days from when an owner files a Notice of Completion or Cessation (if one is filed).

-For everyone else (subs, suppliers, vendors, laborers, etc.): the deadline to file a lien will be either: (1) 90 days from completion of the work of improvement; or (2) 30 days from when a Notice of Completion or Cessation was filed. Whatever deadline applies – if that deadline comes and goes before a mechanics lien is filed, the right to file a valid and enforceable mechanics lien will no longer exist. More on Notice of Completions here: How Do You Know If a Notice of Completion Was Filed on a Project?

Finally, note that California mechanics lien claimants are entitled to file a mechanics lien, regardless of whether their contract was in writing. However, the above requirements still apply.

Keep in mind – even when mechanics lien rights might not be available, there are always other options available for recovery.

Lastly, here are some resources I think might be helpful moving forward:
(1) California Preliminary Notice Guide and FAQs
(2) California Mechanics Lien Guide and FAQs
(3) How to File A California Mechanics Lien – Step By Step Guide To Get You Paid

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