Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>what is the time frame for a handyman to file a mechanics lien when fired from a project in california? No contract or money exchanged

what is the time frame for a handyman to file a mechanics lien when fired from a project in california? No contract or money exchanged

CaliforniaBonding Off LienLien DeadlinesMechanics LienRight to Lien

I agreed to have a handyman that was referred to me by a friend do a paint job for me but after 2 days of work, he proved to not be able to provide the quality of work needed and what was done showed that he didn't know what he was doing and was trying to make a quick buck off of me. In this process I also found his business license to not be valid. I offered to pay $500 and he declined and filed a lien on my property. Apparently served me this paperwork in a city I've never been to on a day I was working in another city but the OC reorder excepted the paperwork. Now he is not only asking for the full amount of the quote, but an additional 10% interest on a job he did 20% of.I had a professional company do the job and they did everything I expected him to do buthe didn't. I red that he would have had to file within 30 days of the project and he is outside of that by 5 days but I need to confirm this information. Is this true??

1 reply

Jul 2, 2019
I'm really sorry to hear about that - it certainly sounds like an unfair situation. First, let's look at the deadline for filing a California mechanics lien. Then, we can move on to options for fending off a filed lien claim.

California lien deadlines
In California, the deadline to file a mechanics lien depends on the lien claimant's role on the project. Where a lien claimant is hired directly by the owner, the lien must be filed after the contract has been completed, but within 90 days of the completion of the project (this time is shortened to 60 days if a Notice of Completion or Cessation is filed for the project). However, when a contractor is terminated, they will likely be able to file a lien regardless of whether completion is actually achieved.

Further, it's worth addressing what amounts can be included in a filed lien claim. In California, a mechanics lien claimant is only entitled to the lesser of the following amounts: (1) The reasonable value of the work provided by the claimant. (2) The price agreed to by the claimant and the person that contracted for the work. So, if work wasn't completed, the full price of that work couldn't be liened. And, for the work that was completed, the amount of a lien would be restricted to the price in the contract or the value of the work provided - whichever is less. Finally, interest amounts, filing fees, etc. can't be included in a California mechanics lien claim. So, if any of those amounts were included in a filed lien, the exaggerated lien amount could lead to the lien being deemed invalid and unenforceable.

As for how to fight a filed lien claim...
There are several ways an owner might go about fighting off a lien claim they feel is improper. But, once a lien has been filed, it'd be wise to consult a local construction attorney. Considering the stakes that are at play with a lien filing, it's a good idea to get a professional legal opinion based on the circumstances, documentation, and other information relevant to the claim. And, upon review, your attorney will be able to advise on how best to proceed.

That being said, filing suit to challenge a filed lien could be effective. If an owner can show that there's no basis for the filed lien, they'll generally be able to have that lien removed, and they might even be entitled to attorney fees and potential damages if the claim is seriously flawed or fraudulent. Further, an owner can also transfer the lien off of their property title by bonding off a filed lien. By securing a surety bond and filing it with the county where the lien was filed, an owner can get the lien claim off of their property and moved to the bond. Of course, that doesn't kill the claim - the claimant could still bring their claim against the bond. Plus, securing a surety bond can be expensive. But, when it's imperative that the lien claim be removed from the property, this might be a viable option.

For more information, these resources may be valuable:
(1) A Mechanics Lien Was Filed on My Property – What Do I Do Now?
(2) Improper Lien Filed on Your Property? Here’s What to Do
(3) How Do You Remove A Frivolous Mechanics Lien?(4) California Mechanics Lien Overview
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