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Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>I am being asked by a Contractor to sign and unconditional lien waiver before they will give me my check for retanage on a project that is complete. What happens if I give them an unconditional waiver and then they do not pay me

I am being asked by a Contractor to sign and unconditional lien waiver before they will give me my check for retanage on a project that is complete. What happens if I give them an unconditional waiver and then they do not pay me

WashingtonLien Waivers

We have completed a job and it has come time for the contractor to pay us our retention. The main contract between the owner and the contractor (which we are bound to) states that the owner will not release retention until the contractor sends them signed unconditional lien waivers from all subcontractors. I do not want to sign an unconditional when I have not yet received a check. How can they require this?

1 reply

Mar 2, 2018
Unfortunately, this is a pretty common scenario - and it's hard to provide a great solution. You're right to be cautious about providing an unconditional waiver - once that's submitted, lots of leverage is lost. Conditional waivers are a great tool, and honestly, they're probably a better fit for this situation. But when an owner refuses to use conditional waivers rather than unconditional ones, payment can turn into a standoff. One solution might be to negotiate - it's possible that some combination of conditional and unconditional waivers might be attainable (such as providing a conditional waiver prior to payment and immediately providing a second, unconditional waiver upon payment). Ultimately, though, other routes will be available to recover retainage if an unconditional waiver is absolutely mandated prior to payment - but other routes to recovery could certainly create more headaches and cost more money.
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