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Can I still file liens in state of Montana?

MontanaLien DeadlinesPayment Disputes

Hello, we completed a few projects in the state of Montana (labor & material) in April/May of 2017. However, we have been replacing some of the components and have provided additional labor and material to the customer since that time. At what point what the lien deadline start? I understand we have 90 days to file from last material shipped/labor provided, but we aren't charging for the material/labor from late 2017/early 2018. We want to be able to place liens on these projects. Thanks, Amena

1 reply

Mar 29, 2018
This is a good question. In Montana, lien claimants have 90 days from the claimant's last furnishing, or 90 days from the date on which the owner filed a Notice of Completion. While the Montana lien statute does not explicitly bar warranty, punch list, or remedial work from being counted as the last day of furnishing, most states will not observe such work as the last day of furnishing for filing purposes. We discuss that idea more on this article: I Returned to a Job – Does that Change the Lien Deadlines?. Note, however, that this is a bit of a grey area - and, ultimately, a lien based on such a deadline could very likely be filed. Whether or not the filed lien is valid may be a whole other question - but there's also a chance that such a lien would be valid if the lien were challenged or an enforcement action were initiated. Of course, mechanics liens rarely make it to the courts- potential lien disputes (and even actual lien filings) are more often resolved before courts come into play. Further, right across the border in Idaho, remedying a defect in the project at the demand of a public inspector is not the same as “punch-list” work, and has been found to be not “trivial” and may extend the time in which a lien may be filed - so there's potentially some room for arguing that a similar rule should apply. Finally, I'll add that the threat of filing a lien can be almost as effective as a lien itself - so sending a Notice of Intent to Lien (which is a completely voluntary notice in Montana) could spur payment while also saving both parties in a dispute the headache of dealing with a lien filing. A Notice of Intent to Lien serves as just one more opportunity to afford an owner the opportunity to make good on payment - and it's a cost effective step, to boot. Plus, as long as a claimant keeps an eye on the deadline, it won't affect the ability to later move on to a lien filing. Note, though, that if a deadline is close, a Notice of Intent to Lien will not extend a lien deadline.
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