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Is it legal for the customer to file the mechanics lien release with the county for us?

CaliforniaLien Releases

Our customer has agreed to pay, but they want to hand us the check and we hand them the signed and notarized lien release to file themselves with the county recorders office. Our customer is the GC, NOT the property owner. I think they just want to make sure that it is filed expeditiously. Is this legal and what are the ramifications for us should we allow them to do this?

1 reply

Jul 17, 2019
Great question! It's not all that uncommon for a GC to file their sub's lien release after making payment to the sub. Many owners and GC's will ask a lien claimant to actually exchange a filled-out and signed lien release in exchange for payment, and that GC or owner can typically file their sub's lien release for them. Of course, the release must still be signed by the actual lien claimant - but the act of getting it filed doesn't necessarily have to be done by the lien claimant.

As for whether you should allow them to do that for you - that's ultimately a judgment call, and I'm not able to advise on whether or not to move forward in that way. But, if a lien claimant is comfortable with what's on the release, has signed that release, and is ready to file it - there should be little difference in who does the actual filing. But, at the same time, the usual concerns apply regarding payment: lien claimants should generally make sure that payment is in hand before filing their mechanics lien release.

Levelset discusses the lien release and payment exchange hurdles in detail, here: Construction Lien Release Process: the Timeline is Tricky.
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