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A mechanics lien is a security interest in real property that can be used by a person or company who has not been paid for work that was done in connection with that property. It is one form of construction remedies for nonpayment. Under mechanics lien law, the unpaid person or company is called a claimant.  Despite the name “mechanics lien,” the most common claimant is a prime contractor who was not paid for the work done for the property owner. Subcontractor, suppliers of materials, or even laborers can also be claimants.  

The lien is recorded against the property with the county recorder and becomes part of the property’s title history. It creates a lien just like a mortgage. The lien has several implications, the most significant of which is that it gives the claimant the right to foreclose on the property in order to generate money to pay the amount claimed in the lien. In California, after recording the lien, the claimant then needs to go to court and file an actual lawsuit to win a judgment ordering the property to be sold by the Sheriff.

Most mechanics lien recordings don’t end up in an actual foreclosure due to the effort involved with a lawsuit, but the mechanics lien is a powerful remedy against the owner of the property. As long as the lien is in place, the owner will not be able to refinance or sell the property without paying off the amount of the lien. 

LS Carlson Law is experienced in the area of mechanics lien law. We have assisted contractors in preparing, recording, and enforcing proper mechanics liens. We have also helped homeowners who have had mechanics liens filed against them by unscrupulous claimants.

Frequently Asked Questions

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The deadlines for filing a mechanics lien in California are complicated. The deadlines for a direct contractor (hired directly by the owner) are different than for subcontractors or other claimants. The last date to record a mechanics lien depends on whether the claimant is a prime contractor or another type of claimant, and on whether the owner records a notice of completion or notice of cessation is recorded. If you are a contractor or subcontractor, it is important to be aware of the deadlines and monitor the dates.

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Yes. To pursue foreclosure of a mechanics lien, the claimant must file a lawsuit within 90 days after recording the mechanics' lien. If you are a contractor or subcontractor who has filed a mechanics lien, it is extremely important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected.

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What if you are a property owner and you didn’t hire the claimant? In California, a subcontractor, supplier, or even laborer can be a claimant and record a mechanics lien if they were not paid. In a typical project, the property owner hires a general contractor. Many, if not most, subcontractors are hired by the general contractor to do parts of the job, not by the homeowner. If the general contractor fails to pay the subcontractor, the subcontractor can seek payment via a mechanics lien against the property (provided that certain procedural steps were followed).

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The most frustrating example in mechanics lien law is when a property owner pays the general contractor, and the general contractor then fails to pay the subcontractors. In order to clear the mechanics lien, the property owner may have to pay the subcontractors for the work they did even though the general contractor was already paid for that same work. If you find yourself in this position, you need legal representation immediately to protect your rights in your property.

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In order to enforce a mechanics lien, certain claimants are required to provide a written preliminary notice to the owner of the property (and to the construction lender if one exists). There are specific deadlines to file this notice. This ensures that the property owner and lender is aware of the subcontractors. A claimant who is directly hired by the owner is not required to provide a preliminary notice to the property owner.

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Meet Our Mechanics Liens Attorneys

We are dedicated to solving complex legal problems effectively, efficiently, and with outstanding client service. Our top-rated, diligent legal team designs creative, customized solutions for all business related disputes.

Paul Deese, Esq.

Partner

Kirk Pearson, Esq.

Partner

Jeffrey Kominsky, Esq.

Partner

James Burns, Esq.

Senior Associate

Ryan Davies, Esq.

Senior Associate

Linda Honey, Esq.

Senior Associate

Timothy Mahar, Esq.

Senior Associate

Phong Tran, Esq.

Senior Associate

Shelby Daws, Esq.

Associate

Taylor Hubbard, Esq.

Associate

Keith Lehman, Esq.

Associate

Shane Micheil, Esq.

Associate

Irasema Rocha, Esq.

Associate

Steven Shack, Esq.

Associate

Nicholas Tomic, Esq.

Associate

Justin Walley, Esq.

Associate

Chris Xouleis, Esq.

Associate

Tell Us About Your Business Dispute

When you hire LS Carlson Law, you can be assured you’ll be getting an aggressive firm fully dedicated to achieving your legal objectives. Don’t take our word for it, we encourage you to take a look at the numerous five-star client reviews. If you are ready to end the nightmare, call us or fill out the form to set an appointment.

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