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Do I qualify for a mechanics lien on unpaid services

California

I am a safety consultant, sole proprietor providing safety services to a General Contractor that has not paid since August 2017. I have provided services for them since 1/5/2015

1 reply

Jan 10, 2018
Whether safety services qualifies as lienable "work" under the California mechanics lien statute is not particularly cut and dry. According to the California mechanics lien statute, "A person that provides work authorized for a work of improvement, including, but not limited to, the following persons, has a lien right under this chapter: (a) Direct contractor. (b) Subcontractor. (c) Material supplier. (d) Equipment lessor. (e) Laborer. (f) Design professional." Note the "including but not limited to" language - parties that don't neatly fit into one of those categories might still have lien rights. Ultimately, whether or not lien rights exist will depend on whether the services performed qualify as "work" under the lien statute. To that point, § 8048 says this: "'Work' means labor, service, equipment, or material provided to a work of improvement." Unfortunately, the lien statute does not go into any in-depth description of what "service" would qualify as "work" under the California mechanics lien statute, so it's unclear as to whether providing safety services would result in mechanics lien rights. Generally speaking, though, the harder it is to tie work or services performed to the actual improvement of the property, the less likely it will be that lien rights are available. In any event, it's worth noting that for those who wish to enforce lien rights in California, when that party has contracted with the general contractor, preliminary notice is typically required as a prerequisite to filing a mechanics lien (with one glaring exception being those who qualify as a "laborer" under § 8024 of the lien statute). So, even if work is lienable, a valid lien may not be filed if preliminary notice was not given (if it was required).
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