Mechanics Liens are the most effective way to claim any unpaid debts owed to your construction business; however, the actual filing of a Mechanics Lien claim can be a complex process that requires a lot of attention to detail. One small mistake can invalidate your entire claim and lead to a huge financial loss for your business.
The Washington Lien Law is complicated, with changes and updates being made to the law every day. Before you file a Mechanics lien in Washington, you need to have a basic understanding of the current Washington Mechanics Lien Law and the steps you need to take to properly file a Mechanics Lien. We have highlighted the most important facts for Washington-based businesses to know regarding the law and their Lien rights.
Keep the following in mind if your construction business is getting ready to file a Mechanics Lien:
- In order to file a Mechanics Lien in Washington, you need to prove that your construction project is a qualifying improvement, as outlined in Washington’s Lien Law. According to the law, the term improvement means “(a) constructing, altering, repairing, remodeling, demolishing, clearing, grading, or filling in, of, to, or upon any real property or street or road in front of or adjoining the same; (b) planting of trees, vines, shrubs, plants, hedges, or lawns, or providing other landscaping materials on any real property; and (c) providing professional services upon real property or in preparation for or in conjunction with the intended activities in (a) or (b) of this subsection.”It’s important to note that in the state of Washington, suppliers to suppliers are not protected under the law.
- In Washington, a Claim of Lien must be filed within 90 days of the date the participant last provided service or materials, and – once filed – the Claim of Lien must be delivered to the real property owner within 14 days via certified mail. The claimant MUST obtain a return receipt upon delivery. The Mechanics Lien will only be valid for 8 months, and if no action is taken during this time, the Lien will expire. Failure to adhere to these deadlines will invalidate your Mechanics Lien.
- If you are not in direct contract with the property owner, you are required to deliver a Notice to Owner (also known as Preliminary Notice) within 60 days of first furnishing labor or materials to the project. There are some protections in Washington’s Lien Law if you fail to deliver a Preliminary Notice on time; however, it requires you to have furnished labor or materials within 60 days from the time the notice is sent. If you fail to deliver a Notice to Owner, you may not have Mechanics Lien rights.
- If you are a general contractor in direct contract with the property owner, you may need to send a Model Disclosure Statement prior to the start of the project. If the project is for a commercial property with a bid between $1,000 and $60,000 or involves repair or alteration of a residential property of 4 or more units (with a bid of over $1,000), a Model Disclosure Statement is required. The statement must be signed by the real property owner, and the general contractor must keep it on file for at least three years.
- According to Washington Lien Law, all parties are required to record the Mechanics Lien within 90 days of last furnishing services, labor, or materials to the project. No excuses will be made for late filings. If you miss the 90 day deadline, your Mechanics Lien will be void.
- Once payment has been received, the claimant must immediately cancel the Mechanics Lien with a Mechanics Lien Release. This must be filed with the recorder to cancel the previously filed Mechanics Lien.
These are just a few key provisions included in the Washington Mechanics Lien Law. There are hundreds more that are just as important to the success of your Mechanics Lien. Don’t risk your Mechanics Lien Rights by trying to navigate the laws on your own – hire a Preliminary Notice and Mechanics Lien Service to prepare and serve your Washington Preliminary Notices and Mechanics Liens.
CRM Lien Services will thoroughly research and verify all of the information included in your Notice to Owner and Mechanics Lien so your Lien Rights are fully protected. We stay current with the changes to the Washington Lien Law so your notices are prepared according to the latest statutes.
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