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Changes in construction lien laws

Four laws pertaining to construction mechanics' liens have had little effect since coming online last year.

California Senate Bills 189, 190 and 424 and Assembly Bill 456 took effect on July 1, 2012.

They all relate to proper filing methods so contractors can get paid for their work.

SBs 189 and 190, which were passed in 2011, require at least 10 days before petitioning for a release of lien.

SB 424 provides a means for converting a recorded design professional lien to a mechanic’s lien.

AB 456 clarifies the requirements of the proof of service affidavit to show the name of the owner or reputed owner of the property, and the title or capacity in which the person or entity was served.

Also under the new laws, owners will now have 15 days to record the notice of completion instead of the previous 10 days, and will be permitted to file separate notices of completion for each portion of the work when there are multiple general contractors.

In addition, the acceptance by the owner clause is no longer included as a means of achieving completion.

Laurence Phillips, partner at McKenna Long & Aldridge, made similar comments, saying he hasn’t seen a dramatic change in the number of mechanic’s lien claims because of the most recent laws that went into effect.

“It’s stayed pretty consistent,” Phillips said. “What really drives the increase or decrease of mechanic’s lien claims filed is the economy.”

He added that when the economy is healthy, subcontractors and general contractors are paid in a timely manner.

However, when times are tough, it is more common for contractors not to get paid – and they will have to place a lien on the property of the person or company that owes them compensation for their work.

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