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Steve Mooney

California Mechanics Lien Lawyer

California Mechanics Lien Lawyer

Mechanic Lien Lawyer

Lawyer, Steve Mooney located in San Clemente, California can expunge mechanics' liens for anyone requiring that legal service almost anywhere in the State of California.  With the technological advances in the practice of law that have taken place over the past few years, the California Mechanics Lien Lawyer can provide services to people and businesses in distant cities across the state. Expunging mechanics liens efficiently, timely, professionally and correctly in order to clear title to your real estate is a very important service. Failure to conduct this legal process of expunging mechanics liens can delay closing a real estate transaction, cause you to lose a loan rate, delay the opening of your business or cause you to be in breach of a lease, real estate sale or your home loan. 

Learn more about mechanics liens on the following pages and contact The Mechanics Lien Lawyer right away to protect your legal rights.

Mechanic’s Liens: An Education

Question and Answer

What is a mechanics' lien?

A mechanic’s lien is a type of security interest in the title to property created for the sake of anyone who has supplied materials or labor for a work of improvement on real property. The use of recording mechanics' liens in the United States dates back to the 18th century. It is called by various names such as a construction lien. It may also be called:

  • Materialmen or supplier’s lien - when pertaining to materials providers
  • Laborer’s lien - when pertaining to those supplying labor
  • Design professional’s lien - when pertaining to designers or architects who contribute to a work of improvement

Laws relating to mechanic’s liens exist in every state. Liens exist because of a legislative public policy to protect those persons that improve real estate.

Due to the economics of the construction business, the state legislature has determined that contractors, subcontractors, and others need greater legal protections for non-payment of their work and materials used to improve real estate. 

Without a mechanics' lien, a contractor and others would have a limited number of options to enforce payment of money owed to them. Furthermore, there is usually a long list of claimants on a failed real estate development project. The statutory lien scheme was created to provide a secured property right where one normally would not exist.

A mechanics' lien is recorded at the County Recorder’s Office the same way a mortgage or deed is recorded.  The recording of the lien gives notice to anyone who is looking up your property records that there is a lien on it. This is important information to know because if someone wants to buy the property, that person who makes the purchase will be subject to the lien. It is also valuable for lenders, real estate professionals, escrow agents, and investors to know when there is a lien on a tract of land.

For example, if the owner wants to borrow money and use the property as collateral, the lender will see the lien. This could cause the lender to deny credit to the owner. In a worst-case scenario, the lienholder can foreclose on the property to satisfy the lien, leaving the owner homeless.

Why is it called a mechanic's lien when I have not hired any mechanics to work on my property.

The reason it is called a mechanic’s lien is historical in nature. Back before machinery was commonplace, people who worked with their hands were generally referred to as mechanics. Specifically, builders and tradespeople were referred to as such. 

Who filed the mechanic’s lien against my property?

Someone you know (a contractor) or someone you have never heard of (a subcontractor or material supplier) may have filed a mechanic’s lien at the County Recorder’s Office. You’ likely received a notice in the mail or found out when attempting to sell or refinance your property. The mechanic’s lien, itself, will have the name of the person or company who filed it.

What is the purpose of a mechanic's lien?

A mechanic’s lien provides a claimant—one who has rendered service, labor, material, or equipment for work of improvement—with security interest in the improved property. The lien may be foreclosed if the claim is not paid. The property can be sold at auction, and the owner can lose the property. Don't lose your property.

What is a security interest?

A security interest is a type of property interest created by agreement or by operation of law over assets to secure the performance of an obligation. This is usually the payment of a debt. It gives the beneficiary of the interest certain preferential rights in the disposition of secured assets. Ok. Enough legal jargon. A security interest gives another person or legal entity a right to take your property, plain and simple.

Who has the right to file a mechanic’s lien?

Provided that they contributed to a work of improvement on your property, the following may file a mechanic’s lien against you but only under certain circumstances and legal process:

  • Laborers
  • Subcontractors

  • Material Suppliers
  • General Contractors

  • Equipment Providers
  • Design Professionals

Can I get rid of a mechanic’s lien on my property?

Yes, there are several ways to get rid of mechanic’s liens.

Can I lose my home or property if a mechanic’s lien is filed against it?

Yes, it is possible. You must act quickly to protect your property. Call me immediately.

I paid my contractor everything I owed him. Why is there a mechanic’s lien filed?

Likely, the contractor believes differently.

I did not hire the person who filed the mechanic’s lien. What gives him the right to file a lien against my home?

The claimant might have provided labor, materials, or professional services with regard to a work of improvement on your property.

Residential Real Estate and Mechanic’s Liens

The following is a typical scenario in which a mechanic’s lien is filed against a person’s home. The homeowner hires a general contractor to build a room addition onto his or her home. This is considered a work of improvement. The general contractor hires subcontractors to assist him or her with the project. 

Hired subcontractors can include any number of people of different trades such as electricians, cement masons, and carpenters. They buy materials such as lumber, concrete, and roofing supplies. 

During the project, a dispute arises regarding either the cost of the project or someone did not get paid. For example, a carpenter is not paid by a subcontractor. The carpenter then files a mechanic’s lien against the property.

Another example occurs when a contractor experiences cost overruns and does not pay the materials suppliers. The latter then files a mechanic’s lien.

Commercial Real Estate and Mechanic’s Liens

The following situation is a typical scenario in which a mechanic’s lien is filed against commercial real estate. Dr. Jones just received his medical license and wants to start a general medical practice. He approaches a commercial landlord and the two reach an agreement. The proprietor will lease a beautiful office that was vacated by a dentist. 

Dr. Jones and the landlord agree to a lease of 10 years with two five-year options. However, since the office was occupied by a dentist, it needs to be reconfigured. Therefore, they make a deal. The landlord will provide $80,000 in tenant improvement money to construct a new office that is more suitable to a medical doctor. 

After Dr. Jones hires an architect and general contractor, the work begins. As the reconfiguration progresses, the general contractor submits his invoices for progress payments to the doctor who then reviews them. 

If the invoices are in conformity with the contract, he passes them to the landlord who releases the tenant improvement money to the general contractor. However, the general contractor does not pay one of the subcontractors. The subcontractor files a mechanics lien. More than likely, the landlord will not release any more tenant improvement money until the lien is satisfied or removed and a lien release is filed.

The proprietor gets notice of the lien from the County Recorder's Office. Dr. Jones must resolve the issue or he will be in breach of the lease agreement or is already in breach.  

Perhaps a lawsuit is filed. The contractor walks off the project, Dr. Jones is ripping his hair out. The doctor has a big problem on his hands and now requires legal representation to clear up the mess created through no fault of his own.