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Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>I'm a building designer (not a licensed architect) with over 30 years experience. I have a client that made a payment with a credit card for progress on a project. 2 months later they retracted the payment through their credit card company and made untrue statements in order for the credit card company to fight their claim- They sided with my client on the claim (which I have paperwork stating otherwise) I would like to feel a lien on the clients property where the project was to be constructed. What are my rights outside of actually filing suit?

I'm a building designer (not a licensed architect) with over 30 years experience. I have a client that made a payment with a credit card for progress on a project. 2 months later they retracted the payment through their credit card company and made untrue statements in order for the credit card company to fight their claim- They sided with my client on the claim (which I have paperwork stating otherwise) I would like to feel a lien on the clients property where the project was to be constructed. What are my rights outside of actually filing suit?

WashingtonRecovery OptionsRight to Lien

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Oct 1, 2018
I'm sorry to hear that. There are a few things at play here, so let's break the answer down by (1) recovery options, (2) the deadline to file a lien, and (3) the types of work that give rise to Washington lien rights. First, before filing a mechanics lien, exhausting other options for recovery is often beneficial. Specifically, many claimants find that sending a Notice of Intent to Lien before actually filing a lien claim can be effective. A Notice of Intent to Lien acts as a warning - it states that, if payment isn't made soon, a lien claim will be filed. Plus, threats to lien must be taken very seriously due to the drastic nature of lien claims, so sending notice could be effective even when a filing a valid and enforceable lien claim might not be an option. You can learn more about it here: What is A Notice of Intent to Lien? Of course, a Notice of Intent will not extend the deadline to file a lien - so it's important to keep an eye on that date. In Washington, the deadline to file a mechanics lien; is 90 days from the last date when labor, services, or materials were delivered to the project. Even if a claimant is entitled to file a mechanics lien, a lien filed after this deadline will very likely be invalid and unenforceable. Regarding who is entitled to lien in Washington, Washington grants lien rights pretty broadly. Under § 60.04.021 of Washington's lien statute, "any person furnishing labor, professional services, materials, or equipment for the improvement of real property shall have a lien upon the improvement for the contract price of labor, professional services, materials, or equipment furnished..." While most states restrict lien claims to the amount of work provided for the actual improvement of property, Washington takes a different route. § 60.04.011(5)(c) defines an "improvement" to include: "providing professional services upon real property or in preparation for or in conjunction with" the intended improvements to property. So, based on the above, a claimant who has provided "professional services" in preparation of constructing, altering, or repairing property will have the right to lien. "Professional services" are also defined in Washington's lien statute as "surveying, establishing or marking the boundaries of, preparing maps, plans, or specifications for, or inspecting, testing, or otherwise performing any other architectural or engineering services for the improvement of real property." That's a lot of text from the lien statute. But, pursuant to the above, if a party has provided professional services in preparation of an intended improvement, they may have the right to file a mechanics lien. But again - exploring other options prior to filing a lien is often beneficial for everyone involved since, at the end of the day, everybody hates liens.
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