Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>We are a plumbing contractor in California and provided repairs at a condo, the HOA and property management company approved, and stated they would pay, whom do we lien?

We are a plumbing contractor in California and provided repairs at a condo, the HOA and property management company approved, and stated they would pay, whom do we lien?

CaliforniaMechanics Lien

We are a plumbing contractor in California. We were called out by the owner of a condo for drain issue. upon further diagnosis we determined that a portion of the drain line needed to be replaced due to lack of grade and a belly in the sewer line. We gave a proposal for a repair on the sewer line which the owner then submitted to their condominium HOA , their HOA contacted us and said that they assumed liability for the repair and approval was made for us to proceed per their property management company. The property management company signed the proposal for approval for us to complete the following day. The repair was complete and now the HOA is not paying us. Whom do we lien in this situation? The work was all performed on the condo owner's property so would we file the mechanic's lien to them? or the HOA, or the property management company or all three? Please advise! Thank you

1 reply

Apr 23, 2019
That's a good question, and mechanics liens against condominiums can be a tricky proposition at first blush. First, I should mention I'm not able to advise you on how to proceed - but I can provide some information on California lien law that should be helpful in making your own determinations. Anyway, it's important to recall that mechanics liens aren't made against individuals, businesses, or associations. Rather, a mechanics lien claim is made against the property itself. On projects where a condominium is involved, exactly what property is liened will depend on where the work was performed. When work is performed on an individually owned unit, lien rights will arise against that unit. Where work is performed against the common areas of the condominium, a lien might be appropriate against the common areas. It's also worth noting that, before resorting to a lien filing, sending a mere warning or threat of lien - like a Notice of Intent to Lien - can help to compel payment without the actual need for a lien filing. By sending this "warning shot", a claimant can show the property owner or any other interested party that they're serious about getting paid. More on that idea, here: What is a Notice of Intent to Lien? Particularly, in a situation where work was set out by a third party, like a homeowner's association, it could be helpful to put both the association and the property owner on notice that a lien claim might be coming. An owner might be able to put extra pressure on their association to make payment, and the more parties that are aware of the claim - the more parties that might be available to pay the debt before a lien claim becomes necessary. But, if a lien claim does become necessary, keep in mind that California has a relatively short window for filing a lien - typically, merely 90 days from the completion of the project. For more information about how to file a California lien, or for more info on California's lien rules, deadlines, and requirements, these resources should be helpful: (1) How to File a California Mechanics Lien; (2) California Lien & Notice Overview; and (3) Mechanics Liens and Common-Interest Developments in California.
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