In az Can a laborer put a lien on a property for payment of work he never did. And is all hearsay?

5 months ago

I’m framing a home for an owner builder. Him and I have a contract. I’m not a contractor myself, I had a guy help me (he’s not a contractor either) and I paid him for the first half of construction, he never came back for the second half and is now Threatening the threaten owner saying he’s going to put a lien on his property for non payment. This is in Arizona, is this valid? If the guy didn’t do the work there is nothing anyone owes him.

Chief Legal Officer Levelset

There is a lot to dig into here. But let’s break this down and give it a look.

In Arizona, in order to maintain lien rights (in the event any exist at all) all project participants must send a preliminary notice to the property owner. This notice should be sent within 20 days of first providing labor or materials to the project. The notice can be sent later, but it is only effective to maintain lien rights for the labor or material provided beginning 20 days prior to the date on which the notice was sent. This means that if the notice was not sent, and more than 20 days have passed since labor was last furnished, no lien rights exist.

However, that question may not even apply for a couple of different reasons.

Arizona has strict limitations regarding liens on owner-occupied residential projects. While it is unclear whether the “owner-builder” in this case is a person who intends to reside in the property, if that is the case only parties with a direct contract with the property owner are allowed to claim a valid mechanics lien.

Additionally, mechanics liens are not allowed in favor of any party who is “required to be licensed as a contractor but who does not hold a valid license as such contractor” § 33-981(C). The parties exempt from licensing in Arizona are set forth by § 32-1121, but it is likely that framing on a residential property requires a license.

Additionally to the requirements discussed above, there are timing requirements for the lien claim itself. Even if all the above requirements are met, or an exception applies, an Arizona mechanics lien must be filed within the shorter of 120 days from completion of the project as a whole, or 60 days from the filing of a notice of completion.

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