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In California, as a subcontractor how long do I have to file a mechanic's lien if no notice of completion was issued?

Escondido, CA |

When filing a mechanics lien I have heard that the building is considered complete after 60 days if no notice of completion was filed by the owner. Then you can add the 90 day period, giving a total of 150 days to file a lien. Is it correct that under this example that I have 150 days to file a mechanic's lien in California?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. It is not correct that you have 150 days to file a mechanic's lien.

    A general contractor cannot record a lien until he completes his contract. (CC § 3115). All others (subs and material/equipment suppliers) cannot record their liens until they have ceased furnishing labor, services, equipment or materials. (CC § 3116).

    Where a valid notice of completion has been recorded, the general contractor then has 60 days to record. All others have 30 days. (CC § 3115-3116).

    No Notice of Completion, But Actual Completion a) All persons have 90 days from actual completion to record. (CC § 3115-3116).

    If there is no notice of completion and no actual completion of the job, the following are deemed equivalents of completion and all persons have 90 days from the following events to record their liens:

    a) Occupation and use of the work of improvement by the owner or his agent accompanied by a cessation of labor. (CC §3086a).

    b) Acceptance of the work of improvement by the owner or his agent. (CC §3086a).

    c) A cessation of labor for a continuous period of 60 days. (CC §3086c).


  2. If no notice of completion was recorded, you have 90 days from the date of actual completion. When completion "actually" occurs is a matter of fact to be determined by the court. In other words, don't wait until the 89th day after the date you think actual completion took place. If the court disagrees, your lien could be invalid. As such, you may want to record your mechanic's lien earlier rather than later.

    No information you obtain from this answer is legal advice, nor is it intended to be. No attorney-client relationship is intended or formed between the questioner and answerer. You should consult an attorney for individualized advice regarding your specific situation.


  3. No, you can't add the 90 days to the 60 days to get 150 days.

    California Civil Code Section 3115 and 3116 provide that the mechanic's lien must be recorded within 90 days of "completion of the work or improvement."

    "Completion" is defined in Civil Code Section 3806 as:

    --Actual completion of the work.

    --Occupation or use of the work of improvement by the owner accompanied by cessation of work.

    --Acceptance of work by the owner.

    --After the commencement of a work of improvement, a cessation of labor thereon for a continuous period of 60 days, or a cessation of labor thereon for a continuous period of 30 days or more if the owner files for record a notice of cessation.

    Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.

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