How to Prepare a Mechanic's Lien

A mechanic's lien is a security interest acquired by a service provider, such as a contractor, subcontractor, design professional or material supplier, who provides labor or material that enhances or improves another person's property. The purpose of a mechanic's lien is to prevent the unjust enrichment of the property owner by allowing the service provider an interest -- similar to a mortgage -- in the property in the event of non-payment for services rendered. As state law varies on the requirements for filing a mechanic's lien, the instructions that follow are a general guideline. Check the law in your state to determine the specific steps you should take.

Things You'll Need

  • Preliminary notice
  • Mechanic's lien


    • 1

      Complete and deliver a preliminary lien notice to the appropriate recipients -- if required by the law in your state. A preliminary notice notifies the recipients that you have lien rights. In general, you will need to provide the name of the property owner, the name of the general contractor, the name of your company, the name of the lender (if any), the type of service you are providing, the description of the project site and the total cost of your services. You will need to deliver the notice to the owner, contractor and lender within a specified time. In California, for instance, you must deliver the notice via certified or registered mail or via in-person delivery within 20 days of providing services.

    • 2

      Complete and deliver the mechanic's lien if you have not been paid for your services. On the form, you must typically provide the same information you provided in the preliminary notice. You must deliver the notice to the owner, lender and general contractor via certified or registered mail or via in-person delivery. You must also deliver it within the required amount of time. For example, in Oregon a claimant must give notice within 75 days after the completion of his specific work or within 75 days after the completion of the project.

    • 3

      Record the mechanic's lien with the county recorder where the work of improvement is located. If you fail to record the lien in the appropriate county, your lien will be unenforceable.

    • 4

      File a suit to foreclose the lien. You will have a limited amount of time in which to file a lawsuit to foreclose on the lien. Like any lawsuit, you must present evidence. This evidence includes the contract, change orders, the preliminary notice, daily logs, schedule of values and project schedules. If you prevail, the lien will attach to the property and the owner cannot sell the property until the lien is removed. You will be entitled to force the sale of the property to recover on your claim if the owner does not remove the lien.

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