In Washington, RCW 60.04 et seq. establishes what is called a “Mechanics’ Lien”, a statutory lien meant to protect contractors, subcontractors and suppliers. The basic concept is that when a contractor or a subcontractor makes improvements to a piece of real estate, or a supplier supplies materials used to improve the real estate, they are entitled to record a lien on the property for any amounts owed and unpaid, provided they do so within the specified time limits and provided that the contractor has followed certain notice requirements set forth in the statute. Of course, there is also the prerequisite that the contractor be duly licensed by the State of Washington as well.
Once a lien is recorded on any particular property, the lien must be foreclosed within the statutory time period; otherwise, the lien will “fall off” and will no longer be enforceable. A lien foreclosure action is basically a type of lawsuit filed to enforce the lien. The filing of such an action on the lien often results in payment of the amount owing rather promptly. This amount oftentimes includes the contractor’s lien fees and attorney fees as well. This is also the time that the opposing party may seek an offset to amounts owed, if they claim and prove that any of the work on the subject property was defective.
In any event, prior to recording a Mechanics’ Lien, contractors and suppliers should be advised of all of their legal rights and responsibilities related to the filing of such a lien, as there can be serious legal ramifications if done improperly, including payment of an opposing party’s attorney fees, in the event the lien is found to be frivolous. Our firm prepares Mechanics’ and Materialmens’ Liens for a reasonable flat fee. If you are a registered contractor and you’re not getting paid on a job, give us a call and schedule your appointment today.