What is a Mechanics Lien?

A mechanics lien is a "hold" against your property, filed by an unpaid contractor, subcontractor, laborer, or material supplier, and is recorded with the county recorder's office. If unpaid, it allows a foreclosure action, forcing the sale of the property in lieu of compensation.

A lien can result when the prime contractor (referred to as a "direct contractor" in mechanics lien revision statutes, effective July 1, 2012) has not paid subcontractors, laborers, or suppliers. Legally, the homeowner is ultimately responsible for payment — even if they already have paid the direct contractor.

What happens when a lien is filed against your property?

A lien can result in a range of problems, which include:

  • Foreclosure (if the homeowner doesn't pay the lien);
  • Double payment for the same job (if the homeowner pays the direct or prime contractor, and he/she does not pay the subcontractor, laborer, or supplier); and/or
  • A recorded lien on the property title (which can affect the owner's ability to borrow against, refinance, or sell the property).

View Civil Code sections 8000 to 9566 or seek legal assistance for more information about mechanics liens.