As of July 1, 2012 the California mechanics lien laws changed. The new law is more technical and it is more important than ever to obtain the advice of an attorney who understands the new laws and how to implement them. Similarly, if you are an owner and your property is the subject of a mechanics lien claim, a skilled attorney will know how to protect your property and your rights.
The preliminary notice must be given within 20 days after the contractor has first started work. The language and timing of a preliminary notice is critical for enforcement of a lien. Contractors and subcontractors should make sure their forms are up to date and completed correctly.
The Mechanics Lien
A Mechanics Lien cannot be recorded until after the contractor has stopped performing work on a particular job. Additionally, the Mechanics Lien must be recorded either 30 days after the owner of the property records a Notice of Completion or Notices of Cessation, or 90 days after completion of the work, whichever is earlier. Therefore, it is in the owner's interest to file a Notice of Completion or Notice of Cessation as soon as possible. The Mechanics Lien must be recorded with the County Recorder's office in the county where the work of improvement is located.
Filing an Action
Although recording a Mechanics Lien will make it appear on title, it can be removed by the owner unless a lawsuit to enforce the lien is filed within 90 days after it is recorded. If the lawsuit is not timely filed, the Mechanics' Lien becomes void and unenforceable.
Removing the Lien
If the Mechanics Lien is not properly and timely prepared, filed and recorded or an action to enforce the lien is not timely filed the owner may petition the court to remove the Mechanics Lien. Even if the claim for money is valid, the contractor or subcontractor will be liable for attorneys' fees and costs incurred by the owner if their petition is successful.