What can be included in a lien and how do you file one in Kansas

5 months ago

Hello. We own a painting company in Kansas and the majority of our work is interior apartment painting. I have a complex that is now not paying me. Our terms are net 60 and they have outstanding invoices from March. to the tune of $30k. I have tried for weeks to work with the manager and regional manager on payment. They have been very unresponsive. I have never had to file to collect payment in 5 years of owning this business. There is no contract persay as this is all for on going work. I do have emails from the property manager confirming the work requested. How do I go about filing a Lien? Also, our terms state that a 10 percent late fee will be add to any invoices over 60 days. Can I assess those costs? What about filing fees? Do I need to hire an attorney to do all of this? Can I collect from them my attorneys fees as well? Thank you in advance for your help!!

Senior Legal Associate Levelset

These are great questions and I’m sorry to hear you’ve had trouble collecting payment here. Before diving too far into your question, I should mention that Levelset has written a great guide for filing a Kansas mechanics lien: How to File a Kansas Mechanics Lien | A Practical Guide Now, let’s look at some of those specific questions…

No written contract
This one’s easy – Kansas does not specifically require that a construction contract be in writing in order for the project to give rise to mechanics lien rights. Certainly, it’s always a good idea to have a written contract. But, at least for the purposes of filing a Kansas mechanics lien, it’s not a statutory requirement.

Kansas lien claimants don’t need an attorney in order to file a mechanics lien
Mechanics liens don’t automatically create a lawsuit, and lien claimants don’t have to have an attorney in order to file their liens. Lien claimants can file a lien themselves, have a third-party service help, or they can utilize the services of a lawyer. There are various reasons for deciding to go one route or another – but a lien claimant certainly doesn’t have to use a lawyer to file their lien, and having a lawyer file a lien will typically be pretty expensive compared to other options.

Including interest and/or attorney fees in a Kansas lien claim
Generally, mechanics liens should only be filed in the amount that’s owed for work performed but unpaid. Typically, attorney fees, filing fees, and interest penalties cannot be included in a lien claim. However, it appears that if a Kansas lien claimant was hired directly by the property owner, interest fees may be included in a filed lien. Still – including attorney fees in the lien itself is generally a bad idea and could even result in the loss of lien rights, altogether. Levelset discusses this idea in detail here: Can I Include Attorneys Fees in a Mechanics Lien? Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that if a lawsuit is ultimately required in order to enforce a filed mechanics lien, the lien claimant may be able to recover interest and attorney fees. Plus, a claimant can always ask for interest, filing fees, or attorney fees if they’re attempting to settle a dispute.

Kansas mechanics lien deadline
With all that being said, it’s worth noting that the deadline to file a mechanics lien is a strict one. In Kansas, the deadline to file a mechanics lien is 4 months from the claimant’s last furnishing date if they were hired by the property owner, and 3 months from last furnishing for those who were not hired by the owner. This deadline won’t be extended by sending a document like a Notice of Intent to Lien (discussed below), but Kansas lien claimants can extend their lien filing deadlines, in some instances. You can learn more about the Kansas lien deadlines, lien amounts, and other requirements, here: Kansas Mechanics Lien Overview.

Merely threatening to make a lien claim could result in payment
Finally, regardless of whether a lien claim could or would ultimately be filed, sending a threat to file a mechanics lien can often result in payment. By sending a document like a Notice of Intent to Lien, lien claimants can often get the payment talks rolling without the need for an actual lien claim. Plus, if a warning is unsuccessful, a claimant can always proceed with their lien claim. More on that idea here: What Is a Notice of Intent to Lien and Should You Send One?

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