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Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>If we were to send a mechanics lien on a job that has a retainer, do we lien the total cost + retainer, one for the total cost and a separate one for the retainer, or one for the retainer only? Please help. Thank you

If we were to send a mechanics lien on a job that has a retainer, do we lien the total cost + retainer, one for the total cost and a separate one for the retainer, or one for the retainer only? Please help. Thank you

CaliforniaMechanics Lien

Our completion date on the job was 12/27/18. I already filed the pre-lien and intent to lien. The company stated that they "would" cut a check for the balance due tomorrow. This of course (if paid tomorrow) won't include the $8,000.00 retainer. Since this is our first mechanics lien ever filed, we would like to know how we can (or what our options are) for a lien on the retainer.

1 reply

Mar 4, 2019
That's an interesting question. First, I should mention that I'm not able to advise you on how to proceed. However, I am able to provide some legal information that should help you to come to your own determinations. That being said, let's look at what amounts are generally subject to lien. Then, we can look at California specifics. Generally speaking, mechanics lien rights arise for construction work performed that permanently improves real property - and a claimant's lien will be for the amount that they've improved the property, minus any payments already made for that work. So, if any amounts are owed that do not relate to the work performed, then the amounts that don't relate to the work being performed generally won't give rise to mechanics lien rights. Looking to California specifically, § 8430-8434 of the California Civil Code regulates what amounts can be claimed in a CA mechanics lien. Under § 8430(a), a claimant will have a lien from the lesser of the following two amounts: "(1) The reasonable value of the work provided by the claimant. (2) The price agreed to by the claimant and the person that contracted for the work." So, even where some price was agreed to, the amount of a lien claim will still be directly tied to the value of the work - unless the agreed-upon price is less than the value of the work provided. For more about California lien claims, this resource should be helpful: California Lien & Notice FAQs.
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