Lien question

4 months ago

I did a $22,000 project and I’m not getting paid and in and getting no response . It was for two homes that take care of disabled adults .
It’s in California and the job was done the middle of May 2019. in California and the job was done middle of May 2019 What can I do to get their attention to get paid on this project

Chief Legal Officer Levelset

Nearly every participant on a California project is required to send a preliminary notice in order to retain the ability to file a valid and enforceable lien. The exceptions to the preliminary notice requirements are wage laborers, and parties who contract directly with the property owner *if there is no lender associated with the project*. This preliminary notice must be provided within 20 days of first furnishing labor or materials to the project in order for the claimant to be fully protected, but a “late” notice still works to secure the value of the labor or materials furnished beginning from the date 20 days prior to the date on which the notice was given.

If a preliminary notice was either delivered or not required, there is still a lien deadline that must be met. In California, a mechanics lien must generally be filed within 90 days of the completion of the project as a whole. So, for a job completed in the middle of May, a lien would need to be filed by sometime in the middle of August in order to be timely and enforceable.

It can sometimes be a good idea to send a notice of intent to lien prior to filing the lien itself. Sometimes, receiving this document, and learning that: 1) the claimant is serious about protecting their interest in getting paid, and 2) that failure to pay could result in their property being encumbered, or even a loss of the property itself can result in quicker communication and quicker payment.

Provided the prerequisite requirements have been met, filing the lien itself can also be very effective to ensure that payment is made.

If a valid and enforceable lien is not an option, there is always the fall-back of an attorney demand letter, or eventual lawsuit for breach of contract (or other cause of action, like a violation of prompt pay laws). While lawsuits are never anybody’s first choice, in some cases it may be the easiest path towards payment.

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