In California, liens filed on private property are known as Mechanic’s Liens. When a California mechanics lien is filed with regard to work performed on privately owned property, it attaches to and encumbers the fee simple ownership of property.
In most circumstances, California does not allow mechanics liens to be filed on government owned property. However, nearly every project on government owned project is required to have a payment bond in place to protect subcontractors and suppliers. Filing a claim against the payment bond secures your claim for money in a way that is similar to filing a lien claim. In addition to the payment bond, stop notices may also be filed. Both bond claims and stop notices are discussed in more detail below.
Contractors, as well as subcontractors, design professionals, sub-subcontractors and material suppliers can file a California mechanics lien. If a company supplies material to a material supplier, they are not eligible to file a California mechanics lien claim.
Within 20 days of the commencement of work on the property, subcontractors and suppliers should provide written notice to the owner, the general contractor and the construction lender that they are performing work on the property. If the notice is served late, then the claimant can claim a California construction lien for the value of the labor or materials provided in the 20 days preceding the service of the notice and thereafter.
Prime contractors must file a California claim of lien within 60 days after a notice of completion or notice of cessation is recorded, or if no recording of completion or cessation is accomplished, within 90 days after the completion of the work of improvement. Subcontractors and materialmen must file a California claim of lien within 30 days after a notice of completion or notice of cessation is recorded, or if no recording of completion or cessation is accomplished, within 90 days after the completion of the work of improvement.