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Should I sign a Lien Waiver for cleaning carpet in an Office?

AlabamaLien WaiversRight to Lien

I own a carpet cleaning company and an office we clean carpet for, has asked me to sign a "Conditional Waiver and Release of Lien." I told them I do not need to sign it because we do not put liens on property. They are insisting we sign and I don't see why, when I have never put a lien on a property and I don't ever intend on putting a lien on a property. I don't even think I can legally put a lien on an office if they don't pay me after I clean their carpets. I live in Alabama and my business is in Alabama. Can you please let me know if I could even put a lien on a property? Also, if I can't put a lien on a property, why would I need to sign a Lien Waiver? Thanks! Ann Mobley - Owner - Heaven's Best Carpet Cleaning of Birmingham, AL

1 reply

Sep 4, 2018
That's a great question. First, the easy part - if you have no intention of filing a mechanics lien, or if you cannot file a mechanics lien, there's little harm in providing a lien waiver. If doing so will speed up the payment process or help solidify relationships, it might be a good idea. Next, it's also worth noting exactly what kind of lien waiver a hiring party wants signed. Without diving too deep into the details, a conditional waiver and release of lien is only effective after the payment designated on the waiver has been made. There are two more sub-types of conditional waivers: conditional partial (or "progress") waivers, and conditional final waivers. These waivers remain in line with their titles - a conditional partial waiver is best suited for for partial payments, and a conditional final waiver is best suited for final payment. Regardless of whether the waiver is partial or final, though, if the waiver is conditional, then it will not become effective to waive lien rights until after payment has been received. Finally, as for whether carpet cleaning work would give rise to lien rights, that can be a tricky question to answer. On one hand, mechanics liens are typically only available for those who provide construction work that permanently improves real property. When a party improves a property via regular maintenance like cleaning carpets, lien rights will not typically arise. However, on the other hand, each state's laws are different, and different situations might give rise to lien rights. In Alabama, lien rights are pretty broadly granted in favor of those providing work. available to "Every mechanic, person, firm, or corporation who shall do or perform any work, or labor upon, or furnish any material, fixture, engine, boiler, waste disposal services and equipment, or machinery for any building or improvement on land, or for repairing, altering, or beautifying the same..." Under § 35-11-210 of the Alabama mechanics lien statute, a claimant may be able to argue that they should be able to file a lien based on carpet cleaning services if they argue that their work is beautifying the improvement. However, this would still like a bit of a stretch, and considering carpet cleaning is a bit outside the work traditionally giving rise to mechanics lien claims, utilizing a mechanics lien may not be the best remedy.
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