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What is a mechanic's lien?

On this blog, we like to answer questions posed to us by our readers. One such question, put forward back in February, asked: when can a contractor file a lien in California? In the post following that question, we explained the steps a California resident needs to take in order to file a mechanics lien in a timely fashion or risk losing their right to file a lawsuit at all.

But while some found this post to be informative, it raised another question that we hope to answer in this week's post: what is a mechanics lien? It's a good question to have an answer to, especially if you find yourself facing one down the road.

As you may have already figured out, a mechanics lien is a legal hold placed on an owner's property in the event that a contractor does not receive payment for work done on a property. A contractor or a subcontractor may file a lien within 90 days of completed work, which seeks a court-ordered foreclosure of the property in order to pay off what is owned to the contractor.

Because construction laws vary from state to state, you may not know what laws apply in your situation or how to seek remedy. As you can imagine, this means that litigation involving mechanics liens can be frustrating, especially if you're considering handling it on your own.

It's important to point out that because of the seriousness of a mechanics lien, you may want to seek the help of a skilled lawyer. They not only know the applicable laws here in California but they can explain how they apply to your situation. They can also explain how to get the lien lifted and even how to pursue further litigation in the event that you need to dispute your case some more.

Sources:, "Civil Code, Section 8410-8424," Accessed Oct. 9, 2014

FindLaw, "Understanding Mechanic's Liens," Accessed Oct. 9, 2014

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