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Expired mechanics lien in California

CaliforniaLien DeadlinesMechanics Lien

Hi, I will get to the point fast. I hired a contractor in Santa Monica CA on 8/16/17 and fired him on 8/19/17. The only day there was labor was on 8/18/17 for 4 hours before the SM city code enforcer shut the job down. 5 rooms were partially demoed. The contractor on 8/4/17 the day he had me sign his contract demanded $7,000.00 dollars. He told me to write one check was for $1,000.00 and post-date the second check in the amount of $6,000.00 (both checks were written on 8/4/17 before any work commenced). CA law states he was only allowed to take 10% or $1,000.00 whichever is less. His contract was for $40,000. Here is what the contractor did to get fired in such a short period of time. He hired 6 unlicensed workers and had no workers comp, took $7,000.00 before any work started was was legally allowed to only ask for $1,000.00, worked without demo permits, flooded the first floor which then poured into the basement, got a $500.00 a day fine from the city of Santa Monica if permits are not issued within 2 weeks of being shut down( my fine), contractor received his own $500.00 dollar fine for working without permits, damaged lath and plaster in the hallway, damaged an asbestos pipe in kitchen, exposed black mold after demo in the guest bathroom but did not notify me nor protect the area from exposing my house from mold spores (did not put plastic up to protect the rest of the house) . My damages for flooding my house came to $6,500.00. The contractor refused to give me any of my $7,000.00 back but instead put a mechanics lien on my house Sept 11,2017 which expired Dec 12, 2017. His lien was fraud. He shows in his final bill the only labor costs was for the 4 hours $958.00. No material was ever dropped off at my house and the only home improvements were the 4 hours on 8/18/17 with the 6 unlicensed men he hired. CA law says if a contractor hires unlicensed workers with no workers comp he invalidates his own lic. So the truth is he can not ask for labor costs. His lien was for renting 2 apartments, gas for his car, buying office supplies, measuring 5 windows before he was allowed to work and claiming that I was firing him for convenience and not negligence. His lien was for $5,958.42. In the 90 days, the contractor did not foreclose nor ask for an extension. The lien has now expired and I'm going to arbitration with this contractor but now he wants $6,500.42. He told his bond company he wouldn't remove it until he was paid or wait until the arbitrator decides. My attorney said I need to start to have this fraudulent lien expunged now and not wait for the arbitrator. My question is if the lien has expired can he still be award any of this money or is this now over since he didn't file a lawsuit? Thank you for your time! Melissa

2 replies

Jan 19, 2018
I'm sorry to hear that - I hope some of those issues get cleared up in arbitration. When a California lien is filed, as you'd hinted at above, it must be enforced within 90 days from the date on which the lien was recorded. If this 90-day period passes without an action being commenced to enforce the lien, the lien expires. While this doesn't necessarily mean that the lien will disappear, any action to enforce the lien will very likely fail due to missing the deadline. However, a contractor may always attempt to recover that sum in another manner - such as through arbitration. Missing the lien enforcement deadline would likely have very little bearing on an arbitrator - or anyone else's- determination on whether the contractor is owed. It would only control the ability to recover that sum through the enforcement of a mechanics lien.
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Aug 5, 2020
I hired a terrible contractor to do a job for an ADU. I hired him March of 2019 for a total of $46,000, that included tearing down a wall that was over the property line, and that alone $17000 of the cost. We were able to get the inspector to grandfather the wall in to code, so that wall no longer needed to be torn down. The project was supposed to be done in 3 months, and instead it took 8 months because of pauses in work where no one showed up for 3-5 weeks and this happened time. The final total cost I ended up being charged was $54,000. material were over ordered, for example a 300 sq ft room had 700 sq ft worth of flooring material. The lost cost of $17000 was never properly explained. the inspector consistent made them come back to redo things that were not up to code, which should not be something that I have to pay for, but he tried to say that was where some of the extra cost came from. After he said the total was $54000 I informed him that the bathroom wasn't complete, and the plumbing wasn't working properly, the roof was incomplete, and he refused to believe me. He finally came out to see things for himself and then sent back workers to redo those lose ends. so I paid him half of the additional $8000 just hoping he would go away. the work was done in november of 2019 and he just put a lien on my property for the remaining $4000. How can I get this removed as quickly as possible as I am working on getting qualified for a refi currently
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