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What does cessation mean for the purpose of filing the lien?

CaliforniaMechanics Lien

I wonder if prime contractor can stop working on the project and files a mechanics lien before completion considering it as cessation? Or cessation only belongs to parties other than prime contractor such as subs and laborors? Also please let me know if a lien is filed before completion it is a valid or invalid?

2 replies

Dec 8, 2017
This is a great question, and it points to some ambiguity in the California state (in fact, we've written an entire article on determining "Completion" in California, and didn't quite touch on this exact situation). While there may not be a clear black and white answer, the context of the claim itself could be pivotal should a court look to the validity of the claim. Anyway, generally, a contractor may not file until "after the contractor completes the direct contract..." under § 8412 of California mechanics lien law. Of course, determining what constitutes "completion" in California can be a task all itself. According to § 8180(a), completion occurs at "(1) Actual completion of the work of improvement. (2) Occupation or use by the owner accompanied by cessation of labor. (3) Cessation of labor for a continuous period of 60 days. (4) Recordation of a notice of cessation after cessation of labor for a continuous period of 30 days." Thus, it seems as though a cessation of work by the general contractor for a continuous period of 60 days could quite likely serve as completion and entitle the contractor to file a lien claim. Of course, that is not cut and dry, and an unjustifiable stoppage of work taken just to start the clock to file a lien claim would certainly be disfavored by a court. Reaching out to the contractor for clarity on the situation would be very helpful. Generally speaking, and notwithstanding California's troublesome definition of "completion," actual and final completion of a project is generally not required in order to file a mechanics lien.
Jan 27, 2020
if aproject only shuts down partialty as some minor work is still going on does the contractor still have the ability to record a mechanics lien if the project is not completed and then starts up in full gear approximately 200 days later.In the interim plans are still being made etc.?

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