Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>I'm a general contractor in Wa. At the start of this job I did not file an intent to lien. Can I file a lien on this job.

I'm a general contractor in Wa. At the start of this job I did not file an intent to lien. Can I file a lien on this job.

WashingtonPreliminary NoticeRight to Lien

I'm the general contractor on a residential bath room kitchen in a finished room above a detached garage . I did not file an intent to lien at the start of the job. Customer added extras & changes in the amount $ 9,259.78 & now is refusing to pay . Can file a lien legally .

1 reply

Apr 29, 2019
That's an interesting question, and I think we might face a vernacular issue - so let's clear that up first. Then, we'll dive into Washington's notice requirements and the ability to lien. Generally, a "notice of intent to lien" will refer to a document sent after payment issues have come into play. In a situation where payments are coming slow or even screeching to a halt, sending a notice of intent to lien acts like a warning shot, and it informs recipients that if payments aren't made, a lien will be filed. When a notice is required at the start of the work to preserve rights later on, this type of notice will generally be called a "preliminary notice". In Washington, in order to preserve lien rights on residential construction projects, parties hired directly by the owner must typically send a Model Disclosure Statement in order to preserve lien rights. In order to avoid losing out on lien rights, residential contractors regularly include the Model Disclosure Statement right in their contracts. For more information regarding Washington Model Disclosure Statements, this resource should be valuable: A Step to Notice: The Washington Contractor Registration Disclosure Form. Of course, there are situations where no notice will be required in order to record a valid lien claim, depending on the amount being claimed and the situation, and for more context on Washington's other notice requirements, this resource should help: Washington Lien & Notice Overview. Note that even in a situation where lien rights might not be available, sending a document like a Notice of Intent to Lien (i.e. the warning or threat of an impending lien claim) might be enough, in and of itself, to help grease the wheels on payment talks. Because a lien claim is such a potentially dangerous remedy for property owners, the threat of lien is generally not taken lightly, and they may be more willing to talk payment after receiving a threat of lien. That idea is discussed in this article: What is a Notice of Intent to Lien? Finally, recall that there are always other options outside of the mechanics lien process to help obtain payment. While they might not always be the most effective option compared to a lien claim, they can still work to get you what you've earned. A few of those options are described in this article: Other Options for Recovery.
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