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liening a home in family trust name

CaliforniaPreliminary NoticeRight to Lien

I am sandblasting contractor in CA. Homeowner hired me and now won't pay. almost 80days since we started project. Now time to lien as he won't communicate. Home in name of Family trust. I never sent a 20 day prelien as I was contracted directly by homeowner. Can I lien the property even though i now know it's listed under the name of the family trust?

1 reply

Sep 7, 2018
As you know, in California, parties who contract directly with the property owner are only obligated to send a preliminary notice to the construction lender on the project (if any).

So, who counts as the property owner. Clearly in a case in which a trust itself is listed as the contracting party (with the contract merely executed by the executor of the trust) any party with a direct contract would qualify. In a situation in which the contracting party is technically different that the property owner more questions arise. This is further complicated by the fact that in the definition section of California's mechanics lien laws "owner" is inconveniently missing. However, in most cases, if a party contracts with someone who is acting as an agent of the owner, the same notice requirements apply as if the party was contracting with the owner directly.

Additionally, the notice statute itself notes that "A claimant with a direct contractual relationship with an owner or reputed owner . . ." (emphasis added) is not required to send a preliminary notice to any party other than the construction lender (if any).

This can be the saving grace for a party who believes that they have contracted with the property owner, but later finds out that they were technically mistaken. Like the term "owner," the term “reputed owner” is not defined by California statute, but courts have held that a reputed owner, for mechanics lien and notice purposes, is “a person or entity reasonably and in good faith believed to be the owner by those involved with the work of improvement including the general contractor and those furnishing labor, service, equipment or material to be used in the work of improvement.”
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