Q.When can a contactor record a lien against my property?
A.No one can record a Mechanic's Lien against a residential property until the project pursuant to which the labor, services, equipment, or materials was provided is complete. Pursuant to California case law, a project is considered complete when all work under the contract has been performed, excused, or otherwise discharged. Now we know that a Mechanic's Lien cannot be filed (properly) until the project is complete, the question becomes how long can a contractor wait before filing a mechanic's lien?
California law provides different time periods for contractors who contracted directly with the homeowner and subcontractors / suppliers who only contract with a general contractor. The general contractor who has contracted with the homeowner can file a Mechanic's Lien up to 90 days after the project's completion date. See, California Civil Code Sections 3115 and 3116.
If the property owner records a Notice of Completion and notifies the contractor(s) if the property is not owner-occupied, the time period is shortened to 60 days after the project's completion date. Subcontractors and suppliers who did not have a contract with the homeowner have 30 Days after the projects completion date if the homeowner filed a Notice of Completion.
However, a subcontractor or supplier who enters into a contract with a general contractor may lose their right to claim a mechanic's lien, or see their rights reduced, if within 20 days after first furnishing services or materials to the project, they did not serve a statutory Preliminary 20-Day Notice on the homeowner, general contractor and lender. See, California Civil Code Sections 3097 and 3114.