A person who does not have a direct contract with the owner may file a mechanic's lien provided they timely served on the owner a Notice of Mechanic's Lien. Civil Code 3115, 3116 and 3084.
However, if the work performed by that person requires a contractor's license, then filing a mechanic's lien is improper. Further, you should be aware of Business and Professions Code 7031(a) and (b), which are very powerful if they apply. Under section 7031(a), an unlicensed contractor cannot sue to recover any money under law or equity for services and/or materials provided. Thus, such an unlicensed contractor should not be able to enforce a mechanic's lien and could be liable for abuse of process for filing an invalid lien. In addition, under section 7031(b), an unlicensed contractor must return all money paid, even if they did a good job. Finally, you may also wish to file a complaint with the California State Contractor's Licensing Board. They may help you mediate your dispute with the contractor/handyman.
Yes, but the mechanic's lien would be invalid if the handyman was not licensed to perform the work. In California, it is illegal for an unlicensed person to perform contracting work on any project valued at $500 or more in labor and materials. California Business & Professions Code section 7031(a) prevents an unlicensed contractor from collecting on debts owed to them by consumers under contracts due to their unlicensed status. This means that a court will not enforce the illegal contract.
Furthermore, California Business & Professions Code section 7031(b) gives consumers who have contracted with unlicensed contractors the ability to sue for restitution or reimbursement of all monies paid to the unlicensed contractor for "any act or contract".
In short, an unlicensed contractor will not only be unable to collect against the owner but may actually be liable to pay back to the owner every penny that was already paid him. This law applies even if the unlicensed contractor completes the job and even if the work performed is otherwise perfect.
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 for a particular case. This Avvo.com posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.
I agree with the foregoing. However, if you do not have a direct relationship with the owner, you need to have complied with the preliminary 20 days notice requirements as well. From what you have said, the dangerous part in pursuing this claim is determining whether or not you were properly licensed. If you performed work above $500, the odds are higher that it required a license and a Home Improvement Contract which has requirements of its own. If you are found to be unlicensed, BP 7031b is harsh in that you would have to disgorge what you were even paid. If significant money is at stake, consult an attorney.
Simply, no contractor license, the individual had no standing to file an mechanic's lien. Especially, if this individual had not served upon you a 20-day preliminary notice within 20 days from the start of the project. Edward C. Ip www,lawyer4property.com
No attorney / client relationship established. The answr is for discussion and general information only. The lawyer had not reviewed any documents or contract prior to the above comments.