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How to fight a lein

CaliforniaMechanics LienPayment Disputes

I work for a general contractor. We hired a new subcontractor. They started the job, then stopped coming, but promised to return. Then they said they would not return and sent a bill. The invoice was dated 2 months after the last day of work and they are threatening to file a lien at the 30-day mark of the invoice. The invoice is way overpriced and doesn't justify the work done. How do I fight this lien and the price gouging that is happening? Thank you for your time.

1 reply

Jul 12, 2018
I'm sorry to hear about that. First, it's worth noting that an over-billing party could certainly be posturing. They might be viewing this as the first offer of a negotiation and could be purposefully coming in with a high offer. Discussing the debt with them and negotiating a more fair amount for the work provided could certainly be fruitful. Next, arguing against the validity of a potential lien claim might be helpful. The claimant is likely within their timeframe for filing a lien - parties other than direct contractors must file a lien after they cease to provide work, but before the earlier of: (1) 90 days after the completion of the project; or (2) 30 days after the owner records a Notice of Completion or Cessation. However, a lien is limited to the lesser of the following amounts: (1) The reasonable value of the work provided by the claimant. (2) The price agreed to by the claimant and the person that contracted for the work. Thus, a lien claim in excess of the acceptable amount will be invalid. Informing the lien claimant of the invalidity could fend off a lien claim for the excessive amount. Alternatively, threatening that legal action would be taken in response to an improperly filed lien can be effective as well. Specifically, mentioning threats of challenging the lien and possible penalties for a fraudulent lien filing could be effective.
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