Legal Topics Real Property Law

New Mechanics’ Liens Notice and Service Requirements

A mechanics’ lien is an “effective remedy” to resolve unpaid bills owed to those involved in the construction or improvement of real property. But mechanics’ lien claimants beware, effective January 1, 2011, those seeking payment through the mechanic’s lien procedure will have to comply with new requirements and use new forms.

Under amendments to CC §3084, mechanics’ lien claims will be required to give the property owner notice of the lien. Specifically, liens must include

  • Specific statutory language in boldface type entitled “Notice of Mechanics’ Lien”; and
  • An affidavit of proof of service on the owner or reputed owner.

This is a signifcant change, according to attorney William Porter of The Porter Law Group, who explains that

Property owners have long complained that until they receive the foreclosure lawsuit they are often entirely unaware that a mechanics lien had even been recorded on their property.

As a result of this notice requirement, commercially prepared lien claim forms, which claimants often use, will be obsolete and counsel should make sure that any preprinted form meets the new notice requirements.

Another change to the mechanics’ lien laws, also effective January 1, 2011, is that the recordation of a lis pendens for a suit to foreclose a mechanics’ lien will be mandatory, as opposed to discretionary (albeit recommended to preserve the lien). See CC §3146.  The amended statute requires the lis pendens to be recorded within 20 days after filing of the foreclosure action, but it really should be recorded immediately after the action is filed. See CC §3146. See also CCP §§405–405.61.

The text of the new law is available online, and a form of the mechanics’ lien document with all of the new requirements is available in CEB’s California Mechanics’ Liens and Related Construction Remedies §3.103 (3d ed Cal CEB 1998), which also covers recording lis pendens in §3.75.

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