This guide provides you with step-by-step requirements on filing an Oregon mechanics lien, including a free to download Oregon Mechanics Lien form.
Determine If You Have The Right to File The Lien
Pre-lien notices are typically required in Oregon. Those who do not contract with the property owner must deliver a "Notice of Right to Lien" to the Owner (and Lender, if any) within 8 days of furnishing labor and/or materials to preserve the right to lien. If the notice is delivered late, it only allows the party to lien for labor and/or materials delivered within 8 days of the notice, and thereafter. Those who contract directly with the owner are only required to deliver notice on residential projects that are greater than $1,000. In this case, they must deliver a "Information Notice to Owner" before work begins.
Produce the Lien Document with Required Content
Now it's time to produce the lien document. There are strict requirements about what your lien must say: (1) It must be in writing, and signed, verified and notarized; (2) It must identify the name of the property owner; (3) It must identify which party hired you; (4) It must describe the property being liened (this typically requires the use of a legal property description); (5) It must identify the amount due by providing a "true statement of demand, after deducting all just credits and offsets." It is very easy to make mistakes - so be careful. It is advisable to use a mechanics lien service or mechanics lien filing system like Zlien to handle this for you.
Timely Record Lien with the Proper Recording Office
The next step is to timely record your lien. In Oregon, liens must be filed within 75 days from the EARLIER date of: (1) the last furnishing of labor and/or materials to the site by the claimant; or (2) completion of the entire project. The lien must be filed with the recording officer of the county where the property being liened exists.
Send Notices and Prepare Suit If Not Paid
After recording your lien, you must send a Notice of Filing Claim of Lien to the property owner and mortgagee within 20 days from the date of filing. Liens remain valid and enforceable in Oregon for 120 days from the date of filing. At any time within that 120 day period, you can file a lawsuit to "foreclose" your lien. 10 days before filing this suit, you must deliver a Notice of Intent to Foreclose to the Owner and mortgagee. If you file the suit timely, your lien will remain enforceable during the entire time the suit is on-going. If you win the lawsuit, you can convert your lien to a more permanent judgment. If you do not file the suit timely, your lien will expire. Your rights to recover the unpaid amount will be limited by contract (i.e. who you contracted with).
Additional resources provided by the author
Here are a few additional resources for contractors interested in learning more about lien laws, or looking for help in filing lien documents.