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Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>I have a customer that decided to not pay his remaining balance of an agreed signed contract and keeps giving me excuses on why he can’t pay. How can I collect my money and what are the cost for a lien?

I have a customer that decided to not pay his remaining balance of an agreed signed contract and keeps giving me excuses on why he can’t pay. How can I collect my money and what are the cost for a lien?

CaliforniaMechanics LienRecovery Options

He filed an insurance claim and was denied but signed a contract with me to either pay me in full for the locating of slab leak, and access to attempt for repair. It was unrepairable and galvanized so therefore we signed an additional contract that gave us authorization for a water troupe of the house but if he failed to give us the job he owed me in full for the slab leak. This was in the beginning when he filed the claim. He filed two claims at once n 4 more prior without anyone’s notice so his insurance dropped him n did not cover the loss as to what I heard.

1 reply

Oct 1, 2018
I'm sorry to hear about that. First, let's discuss some potential options for recovery prior to filing a lien. Then, we'll look at the availability of a lien and the filing costs for liens. Regarding options, before a mechanics lien filing comes into play, there are some other steps that can help with recovery. For one, the mere threat of a mechanics lien is often enough to compel payment - regardless of whether a lien filing would ultimately be valid and enforceable. Sending a Notice of Intent to Lien acts like a warning - it states that, if payment isn't made soon, a mechanics lien will be filed. It's not a required warning in California, but because the lien remedy is a drastic one, it can be effective regardless. You can learn more about it here: What is a Notice of Intent to Lien? Other legal threats can also be effective - such as sending a demand letter threatening a breach of contract suit, and/or a demand letter under California's prompt payment laws. If none of these options are effective, recovery may come down to a mechanics lien filing or even a lawsuit. But let's talk about a mechanics lien. Generally, mechanics liens are available for those who perform construction work and go unpaid. If the property in question is not actually improved in some way, filing a valid, enforceable mechanics lien may not be an option. In California, those who perform work as a "design professional" may have a lien on property regardless of whether the property is improved, but that term refers to landscape architects, architects, surveyors, and engineers under § 8014 of the California Civil Code. If the property is improved, there's a good chance the party who has performed work and gone unpaid will be entitled to lien rights. Lien rights are pretty broadly granted in California, and they're available to direct contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, equipment lessors, laborers, design professionals, and any person providing work authorized for a site improvement. If a party is entitled to file a lien, it's important to keep an eye on the deadline - a direct contractor must record his Claim of Lien after completion of the direct contract, and before the earlier of either 90 days after completion of the work of improvement, or 60 days after the owner records a Notice of Completion or Cessation. A party who does not have a direct contract with the owner will have 90 days after the completion or cessation - or 30 days after the recordation of a Notice of Completion or Cessation (if one is filed). The cost of filing a lien can vary by county and by the document being filed - so it might be helpful to call the county recorder's office of the county where work was performed to ask about applicable filing fees. Alternatively, some lien claimants turn to a filing service to file a mechanics lien - and this tends to be a little more expensive than filing it yourself. Filing a lien via zlien costs $349 and can be done via this page: zlien Document Navigator. Of course, as mentioned above, a claimant can absolutely file a lien themselves - and this article should help: How to File a CA Mechanics Lien, as well as this free download.
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