I just want to be paid. Can i go at both parties. Or can i put a lien on the job. I went there last Wednesday and finished the job.
Oct 16, 2018
Not being paid timely after work has already been done is a difficult and frustrating situation. The ability and path to collect what is owed, whether through a mechanics lien or some other way, can be dependent on many other factors.
First, there is the question of classification. California has very strict licensing requirements, and to the extent a party is a contractor/subcontractor, the ability to file a mechanics lien (or even a suit to recover payment at all) is dependent on being appropriately licensed for the work performed. The the extent that the claimant is an employee of the contractor, the same questions don't necessarily apply.
Provided that there are no licensing issues to deal with, the next question with respect to the ability to lien may be whether or not preliminary notice was sent. Wage laborers (employees) do not need to send a preliminary notice in California to retain lien rights, but all other parties must. To the extent that the claimant is a subcontractor, a preliminary notice must be sent within 20 days of the beginning of work in order to remain fully protected. A notice sent later is effective to protect any amount of labor or material furnished beginning 20 days prior to the date on which the notice was provided.
If the licensing and notice portions check out, the lien still must be filed in time. The deadline to file a mechanics lien in California is 90 days from completion of the project as a whole; the period can be shortened if a notice of completion or cessation is filed. Work done less than a week ago would not implicate the deadline to file a lien absent other unknown circumstances - if that was real work on the project and not just punch-list or warranty work.
To the extent a lien may be filed, it encumbers the property itself. This means that the lien could be foreclosed and the property can be sold to satisfy the debt. Liens rarely get to this point, however, as parties up-the-chain are all interested in getting the lien removed.