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How can I get paid on a job I did on a common road - 1 parcel owner hasn't paid.

CaliforniaMechanics Lien

Hi Below is the "chat" we were having with Cherae, from Level Set Chat. In the chat is a copy of the body of a draft demand letter we were planning to send to the neighbor who has not yet paid his share of the cost of the road improvements and grading he initiated. Please advise. Chat I, Paul Beecham, am a licensed general engineering contractor in San Luis Obispo County. I based and graded a common private road used by 5 other households including myself. I supplied the base material and the equipment to improve a section of our road at the initiation of the neighbor at the end of the road. We discussed a price of $2000 per household, and the final cost was $1991.75 per household. Everyone paid their bill upon receipt except for the neighbor who initiated the work and who has two parcels at the end of the road. I issued him a 20 day notice and he still has not paid. I believe my next step is to send him a demand letter, but I have a couple of questions regarding the draft I have composed. Me Thank you for chatting with Levelset, where our team is ready to empower you to get what you earn! Please give me just a moment to review your chat request. I'd love to help :) what questions do you have? Charae Can I copy and paste the draft here? Me Absolutely! Charae Please be advised that Mr. Kurt Mammen owes Paul Beecham Construction $1991.95 because, after a gentleman's agreement, with all involved (5 neighbors, including you and me), for me to complete a common road improvement, that you initiated, you are the only neighbor who is contesting the amount and refusing to pay your share. You and I, in front of our neighbor, Donna Silva, discussed my estimate of $2000 for each participant (5 x $2000 = $10,000). The final bill was $1991.95 each. I supplied the base material, trucking, equipment, fuel, labor, and encroachment permit, and have paid all those suppliers. If this bill IS paid within 15 days of receipt of this letter, I will consider this account closed and settled. Since Paul Beecham Construction is considered a “material supplier” on this job (base material supplied) he has the right to place a lien on your property located at 1254 Vista del Osos, APN #074-325-066 and your adjacent property at 0 Vista del Osos, APN #074-325-067. If this bill IS NOT paid within 15 days of receipt of this letter, please be advised a lien could be placed on the properties mentioned above (APN #074-325-066 and APN #074-325-067), in addition to a lawsuit being brought against you. Furthermore, your lender could be notified of the liens on your properties. Please be also advised that all legal expenses involved in my pursuing payment, plus 10% interest compounded monthly, will be added to the current bill of $1,991.95. I just sent the body of the letter. We want to be sure that everything we said is true and legal. We also wanted to know what we can include in the letter re: our expenses, ie interest, legal fees etc. in the last paragraph. Me Since a demand letter is not required in California, this letter can include anything you choose. As long as you are still within your California lien deadlines, this demand letter would generally be true. Charae Can I file a lien without going to small claims court? We welcome any input you may have. Thank you! Me Absolutely! When was the last day you furnished any labor or materials? You can also send a free Notice of Intent to Lien or Payment Demand Letter through Levelset if that would be helpful! Charae The final work on the finished road was Friday, January 31, however I also had to meet with the county official to final the Encroachment Permit on the 11th of February. We mailed the 20 day notice on February 13 by certified mail. Is there any advantage to going through small claims court over filing a lien? Is there any issue with filing a lien when the work wasn't done on his property? We prefer not to go to small claims court, if possible. Me Do you know who owns the road that work was performed on? Charae We don't know about the ownership of the road. It has been used since the 70s by everyone there. He has an easement to get to his property. Me Oh yikes!! In this case, I definitely don't want to point you in the wrong direction since I'm not an attorney. I would highly recommend our free service that we offer called the Ask an Expert Center. Anyone can submit construction law questions that get answered by licensed attorneys, and it is a great resource for legal information levelset.com/payment-help/ask-...

8 replies

Mar 23, 2020
This is a good question. You can file a lien on the property that was improved. Oftentimes, common roads such as the one that you described are located on each of the parcels that it benefits. Obviously, I cannot ascertain which property it is located on without further investigation into the county records. Nevertheless, if you choose to file a lien, you will still need to file suit in the Superior Court within 90 days. You will not have the option of going to small claims court to foreclose on the mechanics' lien. If you do not foreclose on the mechanics' lien within 90 days, it will become stale and can be removed. Best of luck!
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Mar 23, 2020
Thank you, Shawn. We will send the demand letter today, and file the lien within 15 days. We were told that because I didn't do work directly on his parcels (he has easements across other people's lots to get to his parcels, that I couldn't file a lien. Do you agree with that? I had understood that because I provided materials, I could file a lien. Particularly since he initiated the work. We would prefer to have a legal lien on the property that would encourage him to pay, rather than a judgement because they are harder to collect on. We really appreciate you advice. Paul and Wendi
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Mar 23, 2020
Based on the above, I don't think you can file a lien on his parcels. Only the parcel(s) where you did the work.
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Mar 23, 2020
Do no responsibilities go with properties you have an easement on?
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Mar 23, 2020
What is the point of me having a Contractor's License for all these years if I can't file a lien for the work I've done. What do you recommend I do to get paid for this job?
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Mar 23, 2020
You can file a mechanics' lien on the property where you did the work because you have not been paid in full. However, you cannot file a mechanics' lien on property where the work was not performed, even a contracting party's other property. I recommend checking the county records to determine whether or not your work touched the non-paying person's property, if it does, then I would file a mechanics' lien on his property. If your work does not touch the non-paying person's property, I would consider filing a lien on the property that your work did touch, and force those neighbors to push the non-paying person to pay you. And, if that does not work, then I would file a small claims suit. I would not file a mechanics' lien on a property that you did not improve as you can be sued for slander of title. Again, best of luck.
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Mar 24, 2020
Thank you for all of your help, Shawn! We really appreciate your time. Wendi and Paul
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Feb 8, 2021
This dispute has been settled, and we have been paid. Thank you again, Shawn.
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