Can I release a lien and then re-file it at a later date?

2 weeks ago

We have filed a mechanics lien in TX. We received a demand letter today giving us 24 hrs to release the lien or they have threatened legal action. We have gone out to this job this week and done some additional work. This I think extends our lien date, correct? If I release this lien can I refile at a later date if they still have not paid?

Senior Legal Associate Levelset

It’s extremely common for a customer or property owner to demand the release of a mechanics lien once it’s been filed. This is true regardless of whether there’s actually any issue with the claim itself, as Levelset discusses in this article: My Lien Was Challenged: What Do I Do?

With that in mind, let’s look at two separate ideas here: (1) Whether returning to a job will extend the timeframe for filing a Texas mechanics lien; and (2) Whether a mechanics lien can be released then refiled at a later date.

Does returning to the job site extend the timeframe for filing a Texas mechanics lien?

The answer to that question is: It depends. We’ll dive in below, but this article does a great job of discussing the issue: I Returned to a Job – Does that Change the Lien Deadlines?

As discussed in that article, the character of the work performed upon returning to the job will be crucial in determining whether the deadline to file a mechanics lien would be extended. If a claimant returns to the job merely to perform punch list work or minor corrective work, then the lien deadline would likely remain unaffected. However, work or material provided under a new agreement, properly executed change orders, or other significant work could certainly work to push back a lien deadline.

Can a mechanics lien be released then refiled?

Believe it or not, Levelset has content on this topic too: Can I Re-File a Mechanics Lien After I Remove the Lien?

But, generally: mechanics lien releases will often state that the lien claim is extinguished, satisfied, or has been paid – and, the terminology on the lien release matters. So, if the lien release indicates that the lien is being released because the debt has been paid, or if it otherwise has language that releases all lien rights on that project going forward, then releasing then refiling a lien could be risky business. However, if the actual text of the lien release doesn’t preclude filing a lien moving forward, then another mechanics lien filing could be possible.

Remember: Mechanics liens are supposed to upset other parties

Keep in mind though – the point of (and the power of) mechanics liens are their ability to ruffle some feathers. Mechanics liens are really only filed when there’s a serious payment dispute afoot – and, making other parties uncomfortable is one of the many reasons for filing a lien. Naturally, though, there’s some tension as to when to release a lien where the other party to the dispute is promising payment or to resolve the issue.

More on that here: Construction Lien Release Process: the Timeline is Tricky.

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