Step-by-step guide to protecting payment for construction, improvement, and material supply work in Arizona. Learn how to secure and assert your mechanics lien rights for when non-payment becomes an issue.
Consider Using A Mechanics Lien Filing Service
Preparing a mechanics lien claim, researching the property description, coordinating with county recorders and following up on your foreclosure deadline and service upon the owner is tedious work. You may want to consider paying a mechanics lien filing service (like www.zlien.com) to prepare your lien claim. Companies that are not law firms can prepare and file these legal documents pursuant to the Legal Document Assistant laws in Arizona. A company like Zlien will charge a single flat fee, and do all of the work as below outlined. It's a huge peace of mind benefit.
Verify That You Qualify To File An Arizona Mechanics Lien
The first step to filing a mechanics lien in Arizona is to verify you're entitled to so file. This involves two primary considerations: (1) Whether you're qualified to file as per the legal statutes; and (2) Whether you protected your right to file by sending the required preliminary notice. As far as who can file a mechanics lien, the Arizona law protects nearly everyone except suppliers to suppliers. Further, while a written contract is not usually required, a written contract is required if you're furnishing to an owner-occupied residential property, and that contract must be directly with the owner. As far as protecting your rights along the way, everyone in Arizona is required to delivery a preliminary notice within 20 days of first furnishing labor or materials to a construction project.
Properly Prepare Your Mechanics Lien Form
The next step is to get your mechanics lien form prepared. This is an art, so be very careful. You first want to make sure you are using the right form, so be careful about the source you rely upon. There are lots of bad forms out there on the Internet. A link to a mechanics lien form is provided below in the Additional Resources section. Not only is the form itself important, but what you put in the form is important too (obviously). There are tricks that can torch the inexperienced mechanics lien filer, such as when describing the property upon which the lien is filed. The Arizona statutes require all mechanics liens to contain a legal property description of the property being charged with the lien. Be careful to get the correct legal description. The Arizona mechanics lien must also be notarized, contain evidence that you delivered the 20-day Preliminary Notice, and include a copy of your contract or a description of its terms.
Send Mechanics Lien to Recorder For Filing
Mechanics liens in Arizona must be filed with the County Recorder in the county where the property being liened is located - this is the property where the work was performed. There are two main things to keep in mind when searching for the proper place to file. First, you must figure out in which county the property exists. Second, you must figure out the county recorder for that county. You can usually do both of these things with a simple google search. Contact the county recorder to get that county's filing fees, margin requirements and turn-around time for filing. Once you're ready to file, arrange to file by FedEx delivery or private courier, depending on the county's turn around time for each and your needs. Arizona mechanics liens must be filed in "duplicate," with the recorder keeping one copy and another copy being returned to you to serve upon the owner.
Serve Property Owner With Arizona Mechanics Lien
Arizona mechanics liens must be served upon the property owner within a "reasonable time." Your lien must have been filed in duplicate, with one copy retained by the recorder, and the other copy being sent back to you to forward onto the property owner. You can serve the mechanics lien on the property owner by certified mail, return receipt requested, such that you receive a confirmation of the delivery. Stay on top of the tracking of this mailing, as you need to get some type of written confirmation of receipt.
If Unpaid, Foreclose on Your Arizona Mechanics Lien
If you're not paid after filing your mechanics lien, you have to file a lien foreclosure action within 6 months of the lien's filing. Failure to file a foreclosure action before this deadline will mean the nullifying of your mechanics lien. Within five days of filing your mechanics lien foreclosure lawsuit, you must also file a Notice of Lis Pendens.