2 Mechanics' liens filed on my home have been filed on my home for more than 8 months and luckily there have been no foreclosure proceedings so they have "timed out." My understanding is that I still want to have these liens removed now so that when I decide to sell the house, it will go smoothly without making the buyers nervous.
Real Estate Attorney
I'm not licensed in WA, but I pulled-up the law. It appears, unless I have mis-read, the lienor has 90 days from the date they commence their action to notify you, so you probably need to wait 8 months plus 90 days to be sure you're in the clear. You should contact a local attorney to confirm.
Lien — Duration — Procedural limitations.
No lien created by this chapter binds the property subject to the lien for a longer period than eight calendar months after the claim of lien has been recorded unless an action is filed by the lien claimant within that time in the superior court in the county where the subject property is located to enforce the lien, and service is made upon the owner of the subject property within ninety days of the date of filing the action; or, if credit is given and the terms thereof are stated in the claim of lien, then eight calendar months after the expiration of such credit; and in case the action is not prosecuted to judgment within two years after the commencement thereof, the court, in its discretion, may dismiss the action for want of prosecution, and the dismissal of the action or a judgment rendered thereon that no lien exists shall constitute a cancellation of the lien. This is a period of limitation, which shall be tolled by the filing of any petition seeking protection under Title Eleven, United States Code by an owner of any property subject to the lien established by this chapter.
[1992 c 126 § 8; 1991 c 281 § 14.]
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Construction / Development Lawyer
If the parties who recorded the liens have not filed suits to foreclose them within the 8 month period, then they are not enforceable. Most title companies are aware of this and will still offer coverage without excepting these liens so long as they are indeed over 8 months old. You could file a lawsuit against the lien claimants to quiet title and remove the liens, but that would not be a good use of your resources. There is no need to remove them.
However, even though the liens are no longer enforceable, the lien claimants can still sue for the underlying claims so long as the applicable statute of limitations has not yet run. For example, most lien claims from contractors involve a claim for breach of contract for not paying for work performed. Even though a lien expires, the contractor can still sue for breach of contract. You will want to keep an eye out for this. Also, if you sue to quiet title, these counterclaims could be raised against you making the suit much bigger than you might have anticipated. At the same time, though, you might also have similar claims. When lien are recorded, it is usually because there was some kind of dispute between the parties, and you may also have claims for defective work or breach of contract.
It would be advisable to contact an attorney to discuss whether is is feasible to pursue such a course of action and review the practical impacts involved with this entire situation.
The foregoing is offered as general information only, and does not constitute legal advice. Please be advised you should consult a lawyer for advice specific to your situation.The foregoing should not be construed to establish an attorney client relationship.
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Real Estate Attorney
I agree with the previous answers and when you are ready to sell and the liens are still on your title and interfering you can remove them however it shouldn't be necessary.
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Elder Law Attorney
Actually, while I seldom disagree with other attorneys, I do disagree with the answers here just a bit. They are legally correct that the lien can no longer be enforced (which you already knew). However, as a practical matter, I have had clients that found: (a) refinancing; (b) second mortgage; or (c) sale of their property; and (d) credit rating was adversely impacted by stale liens. In fact, I recently had to work for a client to remove a filing that had been satisfied over fifteen years earlier. My client only realized this when they were rejected for financing on an unrelated property. Clean it up now! Don't wait. How? (1) Write a letter to the lien claimant, asking them to complete a form for "Release, Satisfaction and Lien Waiver" that they can obtain on the Labor & Industries' website at http://www.lni.wa.gov; (2) send the letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, demanding that the release of lien be executed before a notary within ten business days (14 calendar days) from your letter; (3) advise them that you will bear the cost of filing the release of lien (which depends upon the number of pages, and the cost can be calculated from visiting the county recorder's web site) since you are asking them to complete the lien waiver form and mail it back to you; (4) advise that if they fail to do so, you will be forced to hire counsel to resolve the issue, and that you will reluctantly have to seek recovery of your attorney fees to accomplish it. You can review the statutes on this at: http://www.leg.wa.gov, , hit "search" in the upper right window, and type "60.04" in the dialog box, choose "document" and "RCW" in the choice boxes. GOOD LUCK.
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