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When does my lien expire? What can I do to attempt to get paid?

CaliforniaConstruction ContractLawsuitLien DeadlinesLien ForeclosurePayment Disputes

I filed a lien just over a month ago and have not had any correspond with the homeowner. Is there anything more I can do before my lien expires? My contract with them states we will settle disputes with binding arbitration, Is this my next best step or should I hire a lawyer? Peter

5 replies

Oct 27, 2020

A lien is only valid for 90 days unless an extensions is agreed to by the owner and also recorded. Prior to the expiration of the 90-day deadline you would need to sue in court to foreclose on the lien in order enforce the lien. If the arbitration agreement was enforcable you could then ask the court to stay (ie. put on hold) the lawsuit while you participated in arbitration. This is definitely attorney territory, and I would recommend retaining a construction attorney familair with enforcing mechanichs liens. 

As a last resort before getting an attorney you could send demand letter asking for payment in full by a certain date and warning you will sue to foreclose on the lien if you are not paid. Be sure to give yourself ample time though to retain an attorney and give the attorney time to prepare the lawsuit prior to the expiration of the 90 days from when the lien was recorded. 

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Oct 27, 2020

You can call, write, etc., to try and open a dialouge. You must file suit within 90 days of recording the lien, or your lien rights expire. You may want to request the parties enter into a binding arbitration. If that fails, file suit, and then stipulate or compel to arbitrate. You'll want the court to retain jurisdiciotn over thte matter, too. Good luck.

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Oct 27, 2020

Once you have recorded a lien, you have 90 days to file a lawsuit to enforce the lien. If you have a contract that requires arbitration, I normally recommend filing a complaint in court with a petition to compel arbitration and stay the lawsuit pending arbitration.  

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Oct 27, 2020
You must perfect your lien by filing a lawsuit to foreclose the lien within 90 days of the lien recording date. I often find that a strong demand letter from an attorney threatening the owner with such a lawsuit can get you paid without you actually having to file suit. I generally give the owner 10 days to pay. If they don’t, then you can file suit. But the letter is a cheaper and easier start. I’m happy to help you with this.

Cathleen M. Curl, Esq.
Law Office of Cathleen M. Curl
700 El Camino Real, Suite 200
Millbrae, CA 94030
T 650-871-5955
F 650-588-7101
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Oct 27, 2020
You could either demand Arbitration or foreclose on the lien. My belief is the foreclosure will get more action than a demand for arbitration.
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