I have a mechanics lien on one of my former client, how do I collect my money.
Aug 24, 2018
After drafting a mechanics lien, the next steps are likely to file the lien and send notice of the filing to the property owner. A mechanics lien will not take effect unless the lien is (1) filed with the county recorder in the county where work was performed, then (2) notice is given to the owner of the lien filing. Once a lien is filed and notice of the lien filing has taken place, a claimant can take a number of different approaches. First, a claimant can reach out to the property owner to discuss payment in exchange for the release of the lien. Because mechanics lien enforcement suits can entail a lot of risk and expense, typically, a property owner will want to avoid having to defend themselves in a lien enforcement suit. Further, if talks to resolve the dispute are not productive, sending another document could be helpful - a Notice of Intent to Foreclose. A Notice of Intent to Foreclose is not a required document, but it is an effective one. It essentially acts as a final warning, stating that if the dispute is not resolved, the lien will be enforced via lawsuit. If talks to resolve the dispute are not effective and if a Notice of Intent to Foreclose doesn't result in payment, it may then be time to enforce the mechanics lien. It's important to keep this deadline in mind once a lien has been filed - California lien claimants will only have 90 days from the date on which the lien was recorded to enforce their lien claim. If a lien is filed and that deadline passes, the lien will no longer be valid and enforceable. Thus, all of the above-mentioned steps may be taken, but if the enforcement deadline is creeping closer, a claimant may have to take to the courts with a lien enforcement action. Of course, since this represents an actual lawsuit, an attorney would likely become necessary at this point. Finally, here are a few articles that should be helpful here: (1) What is a Notice of Intent to Foreclose? (2) How to File a California Mechanics Lien; and (3) What is Enforcing a Mechanics Lien?
Once a mechanics lien has been filed, another clock starts to tick. If the filing and notice of the mechanics lien itself isn't sufficient to prompt payment from the property owner (or other interested party) an action to enforce the lien must be initiated.
An action to enforce a mechanics lien is a foreclosure action that must be filed in court in the county in which the property subject to the lien is located. This is a full-blown real-deal lawsuit. While an individual may represent themselves in court, it's rarely a good idea. And, companies are generally not allowed to represent themselves. In either scenario, finding a lawyer to assist with a foreclosure action is a best practice.
In California, an enforcement action must be initiated within 90 days after the lien is recorded. Prior to taking that step, another warning notice (like a Notice of Intent to Foreclose) can be sent to the property owner in an attempt to jump-start payment.