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Can I put a mechanics lean on my rental property

CaliforniaMechanics LienPayment Disputes

I purchased a rental property in 2011 and at the time as a home builder I was in a lawsuit and put the property in my sons name and my mothers name. After the lawsuit was over I asked my son to go and take his name and my mothers off the deed and put it in my wife's and my name. I found out years later when I went to sell it that his name was still on the deed and he refused to take it off. It is now in court. I recently renovated all the units with my funds and my son is trying to come to the property and tell the renters he owns the property and to give the rent to him. He never paid a dime for this property. I was advised by my best friend who is a judge to put a mechanics lean on the property to protect my money that I just put into the property until this case is settled. Please advise what my options are. Sincerely, Brenda Campbell (secretary)for John Dovichi *

1 reply

Mar 16, 2018
This is an interesting question. First, I'll note that this type of dispute is not what lien laws were designed for, and manipulating lien laws for ulterior purposes can be risky - California, just like every other state, has steep penalties for fraudulent or frivolous filings. Anyway, mechanics liens are pretty broadly available in California. The remedy is available to direct contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, equipment lessors, laborers, design professionals, and any person providing work authorized for a site improvement. For all parties, of course, it is required that the party provided work authorized for a work of improvement. Whether lien rights would be available in a situation like the one above appears to be an open question. On one hand, if work was done by the "owner" of the property, then a mechanics lien on the owners own property would not appear to make much sense - an owner would not expect payment from themselves for improvements made to their own property. On the other hand, if the party performing work in such a situation is not the owner, then there is a valid question as to whether the work was authorized at all. If that work was not authorized, then lien rights would likely not be available. In California, for work to be authorized, it must either by (a) provided at the request of or agreed to by the owner, or (b) provided or authorized by a direct contractor, sub, architect, project manager, or other person having charge of all or part of the work of improvement or site improvement. If the work was authorized, then, conceivably, a lien may be able to be filed for the reasonable value of the work provided. While a mechanics lien might potentially be filed, such a filing could certainly give rise to the potential of a fraudulent or frivolous lien filing and compound any legal problems rather than alleviate them. Other methods for recovering funds put into an improvement would likely be available in the event that the property is lost - such as an unjust enrichment claim - and could potentially pose less risk. Here are some content pieces that might be helpful here: Frivolous Mechanics Liens: Intentionally Fraudulent vs. Honest Mistakes ; Will Filing a Mechanics Lien Stop Foreclosure?.
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