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Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>I have been sent a mechanics lien for a company who has claimed they are a subcontractor, but are really a vendor for our company. They have not sent a preliminary notice and have a 10-day deadline for payment. I am just wondering if this is a valid lien and if so, how many days do we actually have in order to pay it?

I have been sent a mechanics lien for a company who has claimed they are a subcontractor, but are really a vendor for our company. They have not sent a preliminary notice and have a 10-day deadline for payment. I am just wondering if this is a valid lien and if so, how many days do we actually have in order to pay it?

CaliforniaMechanics LienRight to Lien

We have a company who did janitorial service on a job site. We are a GC and have never sent a subcontractor agreement to this company. They sent a notice of intent to file a mechanics lien (through this website actually) stating that if they do not receive payment within 10 days, they will file the lien on the property. They have not sent a preliminary notice. Is this lien still valid?

1 reply

Dec 26, 2018
That's a great question. While I can't speak to the specific notice sent in this situation, some general information regarding California mechanics liens could be helpful here. First, let's look at the right to lien=. The right to lien in California is pretty broadly granted. Lien rights are generally granted to all GCs, subs, material suppliers, equipment lessors, laborers, and anyone providing authorized work for the improvement of the property. Under § 8048 and § 8022 of the California Civil Code, this "includes, but is not limited to, labor, skills, services, material, supplies, equipment, appliances, power, and surveying, provided for a work of improvement." Of course, generally, for lien rights to arise, there must be some permanent improvement to the property as a result of the work performed by the lien claimant - so not all work will be lienable. Whether the work performed will give rise to lien rights will very specifically tie to the work performed. However, whether or not the claimant is considered a "subcontractor" or "vendor" in the eyes of the party who hired them will remain largely irrelevant. As to whether preliminary notice is required - this will also depend, in part, on the type of work performed by the claimant. As a general rule, all parties who do not have a direct contract with the property owner in California must provide preliminary notice in order to preserve the right to lien. However, an exception to this rule exists when the claimant is considered a "laborer" under the California Civil Code. § 8024 provides some clarity to that point. However, if a party was hired by someone other than the GC and is not considered a laborer, they'll very likely need to provide preliminary notice in order to preserve the right to lien. Finally, regarding the time to make payment, that will ultimately be up to the parties involved. Because a Notice of Intent to Lien is not a required notice in California, it's entirely possible that a claimant might file their lien prior to the 10th day after notice was sent. At the same time, a Notice of Intent to Lien isn't always indicative that a mechanics lien will actually be filed - it's up to the party who sent the notice as to what the next step will be, as well as when that step will be taken. Finally, it's worth noting that even where a lien claimant might not actually have the right to lien - that claimant may still pursue a lien anyway. Recorders offices do not have the bandwidth or the authority to investigate each claim made in California, so it's certainly possible that a lien claimant could move forward with a lien - even where it's invalid. Considering the headaches involved with fighting lien claims, it's often a good idea to attempt to prevent the filing of the claim one way or another (be that via negotiation/resolving the issue or attempting to fend off the lien claim before it's even filed). Lastly, here are a few resources that might be helpful here: (1) What is a California 20-day preliminary notice?; (2) California Lien and Notice FAQs; and (3) I Just Received a Notice of Intent to Lien – What Should I Do Now?
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