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Mechanic’s Liens and How Business Owners Can Avoid Them

What is a Mechanic’s Lien

A mechanic’s lien is a security interest in the title to property for the benefit of those who have supplied labor or materials that improve the property. The lien exists for both real property and personal property.

A University Heights Story

A restaurant owner and client in the University Heights area of San Diego called me one evening concerned because he had just received a Notice of a Mechanic’s Lien. He thought this meant he was being sued in Superior Court. I alleviated his concerns right away by letting him know that this document is not a lawsuit but it essentially states that there is a problem with a potential upcoming legal dispute.

A mechanic’s lien is used mainly by contractors who are not paid for work performed in a property. The language on the notice looks intimidating. If you receive one, read it carefully and read it twice for comprehension.

A mechanic’s notice reads as follows, “Upon the recording of the enclosed MECHANICS LIEN with the county recorder’s office of the county where the property is located, your property is subject to the filing of a legal action seeking a court-ordered foreclosure sale of the real property on which the lien has been recorded. That legal action must be filed with the court no later than 90 days after the date the mechanics lien is recorded. The party identified in the enclosed mechanics lien may have provided labor or materials for improvements to your property and may not have been paid for these items. You are receiving this notice because it is a required step in filing a mechanics lien foreclosure action against your property. The foreclosure action will seek a sale of your property in order to pay for unpaid labor, materials, or improvements provided to your property. This may affect your ability to borrow against, refinance, or sell the property until the mechanics lien is released. BECAUSE THE LIEN AFFECTS YOUR PROPERTY, YOU MAY WISH TO SPEAK WITH YOUR CONTRACTOR IMMEDIATELY, OR CONTACT AN ATTORNEY, OR FOR MORE INFORMATION ON MECHANICS LIENS GO TO THE CONTRACTORS STATE LICENSE BOARD WEB SITE AT www.cslb.ca.gov.”

Procedural Requirements

Understand that as with other court actions, a mechanic’s liens has certain procedural requirements before a party such as a contractor can seek a lien against your property. Check out the Contractor’s State License Board to learn a bit more about the procedural requirements and changes made effective as of 2012.

Call to discuss a notice of mechanic’s lien as soon as you receive one as there are important deadlines involved in the process.  Resolution to your disputes may come quickly if immediate action is taken.