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What is the liability for recording a mechanics lien without a 20 day notice?

CaliforniaMechanics Lien

The licensed contractor did not finish the job. Last worked in Feb. 2018. Without 20 day notice, sent me an unrecorded (I think) Mechanic's Lien. The contractor has been told he would be paid upon completion of the work. He has been paid 90% of the agreed upon price.

1 reply

Aug 24, 2018
It's definitely frustrating if a lien is filed against your property when you don't think it should be. I'll try to provide some information about California lien law that may be helpful.

California generally requires a preliminary notice (sometimes called the 20-day notice) to be provided by all participants on the project other than wage-laborers. However, direct contractors (contractors whose contact is directly with the property owner) only need to send a preliminary notice to the construction lender if there is one on the project. The preliminary notice requirement is designed to give visibility to parties who otherwise might not know that somebody is on the job.

This means that if there is no construction lender, a direct contractor wouldn't need to provide any preliminary notice. And if there was a construction lender, the required preliminary notice wouldn't need to be provided to the property owner.

Additionally, preliminary notice must be provided within 20 days to protect the full amount of the labor or materials furnished to the project, but it may be given after that 20-day time period and will be effective to protect the work done starting 20 days prior to the date on which the notice was sent.

However, there are other rules and requirements that must be met in order to claim an enforceable lien. In California, a mechanics lien must be filed within 90 days after the completion of the project as a whole. If that date passes, no valid lien may be filed.

If an invalid lien is filed, and is not removed, a property owner could file suit to: 1) have the lien declared invalid and removed; and 2) for slander of title, and actual damages incurred.
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