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Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>I am considering getting an attorney, filing a lien, and suing the general contractor, (unlicensed) and at the same time filing a complaint with the labor commisioner. should I do both?

I am considering getting an attorney, filing a lien, and suing the general contractor, (unlicensed) and at the same time filing a complaint with the labor commisioner. should I do both?

CaliforniaMechanics LienRecovery Options

My main complaint is regarding unpaid wage and O.T., though there are a number of other violations that may help as well, if nothing else to establish the General as unreliable.

1 reply

Aug 30, 2018
That's a good question. First, it's worth noting that filing a mechanics lien does not require an attorney - though, suing a nonpaying party for breach of contract certainly would. Filing a lien is as simple as filing certain documentation in the appropriate county recorder's office then providing notice of that filing. For more information on how to file a lien, zlien has a helpful guide and free lien forms here: How to File a CA Mechanics Lien, and free California lien form. Filing a complaint with the labor commissioner could also help. We discuss it in-depth here, but the (relatively) recent passage of AB 1701 makes California general contractors liable for unpaid wages all the way down the payment chain. Wage theft violations can be reported here. Finally, also making a complaint with the Contractors Licensing Board can be helpful if you believe the contractor is in violation of state licensing rules. A complaint can be made here. Changing gears a little, deciding whether to make one of the above claims, some of them, or all of them may depend on the desired outcome of the situation. Many in the construction industry prefer to utilize mechanics liens because they're inexpensive (compared to filing suit) and don't require an attorney. Plus, they pull more parties into the picture so that payment might be made - a lien attaches to the underlying property, and when a down-the-chain party makes a lien claim, the direct contractor is required to defend the owner from the lien claim. So, by filing a lien, the owner and the general contractor both emerge as potential options to recover payment. Further, making a complaint with the labor commissioner can also work to force payment, but utilizing this form of recovery may take longer than a lien filing, and a claimant can't really do it on their own. Finally, while a complaint to the contractor's board might not really help financially, filing a complaint can help make sure others don't suffer the same fate, and the fines associated with code violations will make a contractor think twice about how they're conducting business the next time.
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