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Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>In California, do my company lose the right to file a mechanic's lien if we did not submit a preliminary lien at the start of the project? The project is now complete, and we have not received payment.

In California, do my company lose the right to file a mechanic's lien if we did not submit a preliminary lien at the start of the project? The project is now complete, and we have not received payment.

CaliforniaLien DeadlinesPreliminary Notice

We have completed our project about 2 weeks ago. The contractor who hired us does not want to pay us for the remaining hours that we were on the job. We did not file a preliminary notice because we did not know we should. Does this jeopardize our chances of filing a mechanic's lien? We want to send on out ASAP. Thanks.

1 reply

Jul 20, 2018
California requires all project participants other than wage laborers to provide preliminary notice to retain the ability to file a valid and enforceable mechanics lien in most circumstances (parties who contract directly with the property owner only need to provide notice when there is a construction lender).

The "deadline" to send the preliminary notice (to fully protect the sender) is 20 days from the first day labor or material was furnished to the project. However, a notice sent later is still effective, but limited to work beginning 20 days prior to the day on which the notice was sent. So, while it's best to send the notice at the beginning of work, a "late" notice can still have some effect.

If a preliminary notice is not sent at all, or is sent more than 20 days after the last day the sender worked on the project, it is fatal to the ability to file a valid lien claim.
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