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What Lien Document Should I Be Filing?

CaliforniaLien DeadlinesMechanics LienPreliminary Notice

We are not getting paid by the general contractor and have just completed our contractual obligations. We didn't pre-lien the job (located in California). I would like to know what document I should be filing in order to force the client to be involved (they have not paid GC yet). Should I be filing a pre-lien, notice of intent to Lien, Lien, or other? Also, who must I send these to? The General Contractor, the Client, or both? If you could email me with contact information or call me to discuss I would really appreciate it.

1 reply

Aug 21, 2018
The requirements for maintaining lien rights can be complex and confusing to put into practice. But, it doesn't always need to be that way - hopefully the information here can help you make decisions for this and future projects so you always know you're going to get paid what you've earned.

In California, every party other than wage laborers has a preliminary notice requirement (although parties who contract directly with the owner only need to send a preliminary notice if there was a construction lender). To fully protect all labor or materials furnished to the project, this preliminary notice should be provided to the property owner, direct contractor, and lender (if any) within 20 days from first furnishing labor or materials. If it is given after the first 20 days the notice works to protect the labor or materials furnished from the date 20 days prior to the date on which the notice was sent. If the work ended more than 20 days prior to sending a notice it is too late. Sending the preliminary notice is required in order to be able to file a valid mechanics lien.

A notice of intent to lien is not required in California, but it can be useful to prompt payment or jump-start communication regarding payment. This document lets the owner know that a lien is a real possibility and can sometimes result in payment without needing to take the time and expense of filing a lien itself.

The lien itself must be filed within 90 days from the completion of the entire project (not just the claimant's work). However, this period can be shortened if a notice of completion or cessation is filed, and the lien must be filed within 30 days from that date.
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