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Debt Collection
Civil Lawsuits

What can a homeowner do when the contractor was paid in full and the subcontractor wasn't and the subcontractor is trying to put a lien on the homeowner?


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December 15, 2009 3:12AM


In California, if a sub-contractor is not paid, no matter WHO hired them,

they can place a mechanic's lien on the property where the work was performed.

That's why in California, you should always either write your check payable to
your contractor AND the sub-contractor. That way, they both must go to the bank to
cash it. And/or get a signed release from your general contractor at the end of the
job (and withhold final payment until he does so) that all of his subs were paid.

If the mechanics lien has already been filed, he has 90 days in California to "perfect"
the lien. This means that he has to follow up the lien with a lawsuit to foreclose the
lien. If he doesn't, you can easily get the lien released. I've been through this, and my tactic was to just wait out the 90 days - ie. don't remind him he has to file. Once the
90 days is up, he can't refile the lien and start over - he's missed his opportunity.
(He can still sue you though..)

There are also other requirements in California, such as a required 20 day notice before
the lien is filed, etc.