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Can i put Lien on a condo for sale that I staged with furniture?

CaliforniaMechanics LienPayment Disputes

Hello, I am in the business of home staging. I staged a confo, owned by a realtor/owner and she is not communicating with me in removing the staging furniture. And i have a good contract that she signed. She has left several voice messages saying she will only pay $1500 of the $2000. Due to she didn’t like the furniture that was used for staging. I’m known for quality staging not cheap staging. The condo is in escrow now and I have concerns, if I’m going to get my furniture back as this has happened before. The furnishings are worth $25,000 and take this serious as this is my business. I have already filed a small claims. I feel the best way to assure i get paid and get my furniture back is to place a lien on the property before it transfers to the buyer, which could be within two weeks. Please advise, Suzanne

1 reply

Mar 14, 2018
Mechanics liens are generally available for the improvement of real property, but typically, such improvements should be permanent. While the staging of an apartment may improve real property for some temporary amount of time, that the furnishings intend to be removed would seem to undermine any improvement for the sake of establishing mechanics lien rights. Further, even if the furnishings were intended to be left permanently at the real property, it seems unlikely that the work involved in staging a property would give rise to mechanics lien rights. Material suppliers and equipment lessors both have mechanics lien rights in California, but the California mechanics lien statute contemplates those roles within the context of the construction industry - I would be very hesitant to attempt to stretch California mechanics lien laws to cover non-construction work provided for a very short term, temporary improvement such as staging a property in preparation of a sale. However, that is not to say that other remedies and methods of recovery will not be available or successful. First, the mere threat of a mechanics lien - such as a Notice of Intent to Lien (which is a completely voluntary notice in California) might be enough to spur an owner into paying what is due. Also, a demand letter made through an attorney could also work to speed up payment from an unwilling owner. Finally, bringing an action in small claims court might also be an available path to take. Ultimately, these are just a few of many available options. Consulting a local attorney familiar with contract and real estate law is the best way to decide what options are available for recovery, and they'll be able to advise you on which path to take.
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