Christensen Law Firm

How Do I File A Mechanic’s Lien? Can I Do It Myself?


I recommend that my clients either have an attorney prepare their mechanic’s lien or at the very least, that they engage the services of a lien services provider. These lien services providers, whose only business is to provide lien related services (such as sending the Preliminary Twenty-Day Lien Notices, making sure all the necessary affidavits and certificates of mailing are in order, and preparing mechanic’s lien claims) have developed a level of expertise and efficiency that a contractor is not likely to have. They have the expertise and knowledge to prepare the necessary documents in a cost-efficient way. If you are involved with a very large mechanic’s lien claim, then it will make sense to have your attorney prepare and record the lien. However, for smaller claims, it may make more sense to take your business to a lien services provider. I would never recommend filing a lien yourself. There are too many ways that a lien can be declared invalid. In this highly technical area of the law, I recommend letting the experts handle it.

What Are The Deadlines To Send The Documents For Each?

The first thing to consider on lien or bond claims is that anyone who wants to make such a claim has to have sent a Preliminary Twenty-Day Lien Notice. These notices should be sent within twenty days of when a contractor or supplier first provides labor or services to the project. Any work performed within that twenty-day period, and going forward, will be covered by the Preliminary Twenty-Day Lien Notice, giving the contractor or supplier the right to pursue a mechanic’s lien or a payment bond claim for those amounts that were earned for work performed during the relevant period.

Laws governing payment bonds are highly technical and are governed by statutory deadlines. If a contractor or supplier hasn’t been paid on a project where a payment bond is in place, I recommend that they work closely with a construction attorney to ensure that all deadlines are met and all requirements satisfied. Similarly, any contractor who hasn’t been paid on a project on which they have lien rights, I again recommend working closely with an experienced construction lawyer to make sure the deadlines and legal requirements are met. As an example of why this is necessary, the Arizona statutes defining the deadline for recording a mechanic’s lien seem pretty straightforward at first glance—namely, that if you record your lien in the office of the county recorder within 120 days of completion of the project, then your mechanic’s lien will be considered timely. However, because of some quirks of how “completion” is defined in those statutes, a project may be considered complete anywhere from 90 to 150 days after a Certificate of Occupancy is issued. If the project was one on which no Certificate of Occupancy would be issued, or if it was abandoned, or if it wasn’t technically abandoned but work stopped for a long time, the deadline may be very difficult to determine. An experienced construction lawyer can help a contractor sort through these confusing legal provisions to make sure that the lien gets recorded in a timely manner.

Do I Have To Send Notice That The Lien Was Recorded?

A contractor or supplier is required to send notice that the lien was recorded. Typically, that notice will be sent to the owner of the property, the general contractor, and the lender. If the contractor or supplier making the lien claim is lower down on the chain (such as a sub-subcontractor or a supplier to a subcontractor), then that lien claimant would also want to send a copy of it to the subcontractor that it contracted with. This is one of the areas where using an attorney or a lien services provider can help a lien claimant make sure that all the legal requirements are met.

Can I Include Attorney’s Fees And Other Costs In The Total Amount Of The Lien?

A mechanic’s lien is intended to protect a contractor, supplier, laborer, or design professional for the value of the work that they actually provided in the project. That is the limitation on what can be included in a lien. There is one exception to that. A lien claimant can include in a mechanic’s lien claim the cost of preparing the lien. Not all of the legal fees that you incurred can be included, but the specific amount that you paid to prepare and record the lien can be. However, if the lien claimant is required to take the next step of filing a lawsuit to foreclose the mechanic’s lien, then it can, as the prevailing party in that lawsuit, receive an award of the attorney’s fees incurred.

For more information on Filing A Mechanic’s Lien In Arizona, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (480) 378-0466 today.

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