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Mechanics lien - next steps before foreclosure

CaliforniaMechanics Lien

Our contractor did work to our home without sending any cost estimate/written change order, as required in our contract. On top of it, the work was done poorly and needs repair. Now he wants to file a mechanics lien as we refuse to pay. What are the next steps involved in the process? Thanks

1 reply

Mar 26, 2019
I'm very sorry to hear about that. First, these resources should be helpful: (1) I Just Received a Notice of Intent to Lien – What Should I Do Now?; and (2) A Mechanics Lien Was Filed on My Property – What Do I Do Now? Anyway, when a mechanics lien is threatened against your property, it's natural to approach the situation with caution. Often, if it appears that a lien filing really is imminent, owners will hire a construction or real estate attorney to try and help ward off the prospective lien claim, and/or to battle the claim once filed. Procedurally, it can be hard to stop a lien filing before it's actually made. Owners might be able secure a payment bond, and once secured, a lien claim would no longer attach to the property (it'd attach to the bond instead) pursuant to § 8600 of the California Civil Code. However, based on that section, a payment bond to protect against lien claims must be secured and recorded before the commencement of work. Another option many owners utilize is to send a warning or demand letter via an attorney. There are serious penalties that could come into play when frivolous or fraudulent mechanics liens are filed, so by warning a potential claimant that (1) their claim would ultimately be invalid due to some flaw (like an exaggerated amount), and (2) penalties would be incurred as a result, an owner might be able to keep the claimant from filing a lien on their property. Once a lien claim is filed, an owner can always bond off the filed lien. By doing so, the bond would take the place of the owner's property and the property title would be cleared. But, securing a mechanics lien bond can be costly, so it's a good idea to consider all options before diving in. Finally, flaws like exaggerated amounts and claims made for unauthorized work could certainly invalidate a filed mechanics lien and leave it unenforceable. So, if a lien is filed based on questionable or even improper grounds, an owner could always challenge the filed lien via legal action, and consulting a local construction or real estate attorney could help determine the viability of the option. With all that being said, it's important to remember that even when some amounts may be in dispute, a lien claimant could still be able to file a lien for amounts that are clearly owed and unpaid. zlien discusses that in this article: Do I Still Have Lien Rights If There Is a Dispute as to What I Am Owed?
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