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What are the laws for an attorney to file a mechanics lien in Calif.

CaliforniaLien DeadlinesMechanics LienRight to Lien

I have an unfinished home painting project. My one story 3/2 house was painted inside and out. Workers dug a hole on the property and poured paint into it. More damage was done as contractor would not supervise. 6 1/2 weeks, 30% is still left for completion. A mechanics lien was placed on my home although I stated in three emails that I wanted him to return, with a new contract stating damage to be repaired and timeline for completion. He denied damages but wants to return. Can the attorney legally place a lien, if work is not completed and I stated for him to return?

1 reply

Aug 27, 2018
This can be a thorny question. The timing requirements related to mechanics lien claims are generally thought about as the deadlines by which a lien must be filed - not as related to the whether the appropriate time to file has begun.

Generally, once a potential lien claimant does work, and is unpaid for that work, a lien may be filed. However, there can also be requirements that certain work is "complete" prior to filing a mechanics lien.

In California, the time period for filing an enforceable lien depends on the role of the lien claimant. A direct contractor (one who contracts directly with the property owner) is not allowed to "enforce a lien unless the contractor records a claim of lien after the contractor completes the direct contract." A claimant other than a direct contractor (somebody who contracts with anybody other than the property owner) must only file the lien "after the claimant ceases to provide work."

Accordingly, whether a lien is filed too early depends on the party filing the lien, and the status of the job, or his/her work on it. If a lien claim is filed by anybody other than the direct contractor, it is likely not too early as long as the claimant is no longer working on the project. If the lien is filed by the direct contractor, the question likely turns on whether the contract has been "completed."
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