What does it mean for a contractor to "perfect" a mechanics lien? How do I know if a lawsuit was filed? (In California).

Asked over 1 year ago - Walnut Creek, CA

A contractor placed an unwarranted mechanics lien on my house 6 years ago. The lien was recorded in a timely manner, but I don't know if he completed all the steps to keep the lien from now being "stale." I need to get the lien removed for a refi. Thanks.

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Scott G Wolfe JR

    Contributor Level 12


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . This lien is stale and invalid. A lien is only good in California for a period of 90 days...so, 90 days after it was filed, it was invalid unless actions were taken to enforce and foreclose on it. If these actions were taken, you would know it by now.

    The lien needs to be removed.

    Here is a great article we wrote about removing a mechanics lien in California, as well as some resources from the Sacramento Public Library to do so:
    How to Remove a Frivolous Mechanics Lien

    You'll need to:

    --> Send the claimant a ten day notice, giving them 10 days to remove it voluntarily;

    --> If they don't, you'll need to bring an action in court to remove the lien. You will be entitled to a reimbursement of your attorney fees for this.

    If you want an attorney to do it, our law firm charges a flat fee to do this. Check that our here:
    Lien Removal Suit on Flat Fee

    Good luck.

    My Mechanics Lien Filing Service at www.zlien.com. Our number is 866-720-5436. Avvo's terms and conditions apply,... more
  2. George William Wolff

    Contributor Level 13


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . If it was 6 years ago you'd know long ago if he filed suit to perfect the

    George Wolff

    This is NOT legal advice, just a general discussion of the law, as we are not familiar with the specific... more
  3. Cathleen M Curl

    Contributor Level 12


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . To perfect his lien the contractor would have had to file a lawsuit within 90 days of the recording date of the lien and serve you with a copy of the lawsuit within 60 days after that, so the lien is long expired. You should write the contractor a letter demanding he release the lien. It helps to include a release of lien form with the letter because many contractors don't know how to release a lien. Keep a copy of the letter for your records. If the contractor fails to release it, you can file a petition with the court to get them to judicially remove the lien, and the contractor is liable for your reasonable attorneys fees and costs. Good luck!

  4. Randall Scott Jackson

    Contributor Level 6


    Lawyer agrees


    Answered . I agree with the advice you have been given by other attorneys. However, a six year old mechanic's lien should not be a problem for your title insurance company. Stale Mechanic's lien that are more than one year old are routinely ignored and assumed to be invalid by title companies. The title officer should be willing to insure the new deed of trust for your refinance. If the stale lien appeared on the list of exceptions to coverage. I would confirm with the title officer issuing the report that this item will be removed and covered by the title insurance policy. The potential risk on a lien that old, is so small. I would switch title companies if they don't just insure it. You should not have to go to court for this.

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