There are several steps that a contractor must follow in order to file a valid lien in California. First, a contractor, subcontractor, or materials supplier must serve the owenr with a Preliminary Notice. The prime contractor (the general contractor) may avoid this requirement if their contract includes a mechanics lien warning. The Preliminary Notice must be served either before work begins, or within 20 days after the work is performed. A Mechanic's lien is not valid unless a Preliminary Notice was properly provided. The contractor must provide the date that work began or materials were delivered.
A Notice of Mechanics lien can be recorded within 90 days of when work was last performed. The filing party then has 90 days to file a lawsuit to "foreclose" on the mechanics lien. If a lawsuit is not timely filed, the contractor may not take steps to enforce any lien rights. Even if the party who filed the lien does not act to foreclose on the lien, the lien remains recorded against the property. The property owner needs to take steps to have the lien removed, either voluntarily by the party who filed the lien, or by legal action.
Feel free to contact us if you need assistance with respect to Mechanics Liens. We can be reached at 619-398-8379.