We filed a $100k ML against a property owner for non-payment. However, we did not bring suit within the 90 day period and the ML is now expired. Have we lost our rights for payment at this point?
Nov 29, 2018
That's a fair question. First, it's worth noting that once a mechanics lien has been filed, that 90 day deadline to enforce suit is a strict one. The timeframe can be extended before it occurs (via a Notice of Credit). However, once that deadline has passed - the lien is no longer enforceable. It could potentially still be used as leverage, but if push comes to shove, it's likely that the property owner could have the lien removed. Of course, this certainly doesn't mean that the payment can't be recovered - if payment is owed and unpaid, the debt is still owed regardless of whether a mechanics lien is available to secure that debt. There are a number of other options for recovery when a mechanics lien won't work. This includes, potentially, a lawsuit for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, or even a claim under the California prompt payment laws - among other potential remedies. What's more, the mere threat of suit is often enough to compel payment - and sending a demand letter threatening specific legal action could go a long way toward compelling payment or even simply bringing the sides together to discuss resolving the dispute. When such a demand is sent via attorney, it tends to carry some extra "umph".