Mechanic’s liens are designed to help certain types of professionals who have rendered services to a property owner and not received payment recover fair compensation.  However, while mechanics liens can be an effective and reliable method of securing delinquent debts, the process of acquiring and attaching an enforceable lien can be daunting.  Mechanic’s liens are subject to complex and demanding legal requirements under the California Civil Code, and a single missed deadline or forgotten document could negatively impact the strength of your claim.

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If you’re considering filing a mechanic’s lien in California, let the experienced business attorneys of Bellatrix PC guide you through the process.  Our knowledgeable legal team is well-versed in labor laws and matters pertaining to breach of contract, and we are prepared to aggressively defend creditors’ rights to ensure they receive fair payment for the labor and materials they supplied.  Our attorneys work closely with our clients to provide dependable legal advice and strategic representation at every stage of the lien acquisition, filing, and debt collection process.

To arrange for a private legal consultation with an experienced mechanic’s lien attorney, call the law offices of Bellatrix PC at (800) 449-8992 today.

What Are Mechanic’s Liens?

There are many different types of liens, including but not limited to tax liens, judgment liens, possessory liens, and child support liens. A lien restrains and limits what a debtor can do with the liened property. For example, a debtor with a lien on their property may be unable to sell the property until the lien is paid off and removed. From a creditor’s perspective, property liens are a reliable strategy for securing repayment from debtors who fall behind on their payment obligations, as the creditor effectively holds possession over the property until the debt is discharged.

One of the most common types of lien is the mechanic’s lien. Contrary to what the term implies, mechanic’s liens are not a remedy solely available to mechanics. There are profession-specific liens, such as design professional’s liens, which are intended for use by engineers, surveyors, and architects. However, mechanics liens are used by a wide variety of professionals.  In fact, Article XIV, Section 3 of the California Constitution grants mechanic’s liens rights to “mechanics, materialmen, artisans, and laborers of every class.”  This provision extends to a variety of suppliers and independent contractors, including both prime contractors and subcontractors.

Mechanic’s liens are used in situations where a supplier or contractor does not receive payment for improving a property.  The lien is intended to ensure compensation to the unpaid supplier or contractor for expenses stemming from repairs, materials, labor, storage, or a combination thereof.  If a lien goes unpaid, the property to which the lien is attached can even be foreclosed to satisfy the debt.

California Lien Filing Requirements: Forms, Documents, and Time Limits

Provided that you have the right to file a mechanic’s lien in the state of California in accordance with the provisions of Article XIV, Section 3 of the California Constitution, you must comply all of the filing deadlines and documentation requirements.

Filing deadlines are impacted by the professional role of the party seeking to file the lien.  The state of California imposes the following time limits:

  • Prime Contractors — You must file the lien within 60 days of filing your Notice of Completion or Notice of Cessation.  If neither of these notices have been filed, you must file the lien within 90 days of the project being completed.
  • Subcontractors and Laborers — You must file the lien within 30 days of filing your Notice of Completion or Notice of Cessation.  Once again, if neither of these notices have been filed, then you must file the lien within 90 days of the project’s completion.
  • Suppliers — See above time limits for laborers and subcontractors.

With the exception of prime contractors, all parties seeking to file a mechanic’s lien in California are first required to send a 20-Day Preliminary Notice to (1) the property owner, (2) the prime contractor, and (3) the lender.

In accordance with Cal. Civ. Code § 8416(a), in order to obtain a mechanic’s lien in California you must prepare and submit a written claim of mechanic’s lien, which must be signed by the claimant.  This written claim must include all of the following elements:

  • The name of the property owner (if known).
  • The name of the claimant’s employer or the party who hired the claimant.
  • A description of the work site which is “sufficient for identification.”
  • A statement describing the nature of the work that was performed.
  • A statement detailing the amount you are seeking “after deducting all just credits and offsets.”
  • A proof of service affidavit, which must:
    • Be signed by the person who serves the claim.
    • List the name and address of the property owner whom the claim was served on.
    • Indicate the “date, place, and manner of service,” supported by “facts showing that the service was made in accordance with [Cal. Civ. Code § 8416].”
  • A Notice of Mechanics Lien, which must include very specific copy, formatted in a very specific manner, precisely as described by Cal. Civ. Code § 8416(a)(8).

If you’re struggling to secure a payment for services your business rendered, our business lawyers can help you resolve your dispute and recover the compensation which you are owed.  To arrange for a confidential legal consultation, call the law offices of Bellatrix PC right away at (800) 449-8992.

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