A Mechanic’s Lien is a security interest in the title of real or personal property placed by those who supplied the materials or provided the labor to improve the property. A “mechanic lien” is not necessarily the modern interpretation of someone who repairs machinery, but actually describes a person or company that provides the labor or materials for the improvement of property – thus, the tool is called a Mechanic’s Lien. This particular remedy is typically used by contractors and subcontractors as a defense against the nonpayment or the imperfection of tender for a construction contract. Mechanic’s Liens are governed by the various state laws and interpretations. This guide will provide an in depth examination into the facets of the Mechanic’s Lien in the District of Columbia.
The District of Columbia provides a favorable Mechanic’s Liens statute for contractors. In order to apply a Mechanic’s Lien to a property, one must file a form with the District of Columbia Recorder of Deeds – Land Records division. The District of Columbia requires this form to be filed with the Recorder of Deeds within 90 days after either the completion or the termination of the project. In addition, subcontractors are entitled to ask for information from the owner and the contractor.
A significant advantage of the Mechanic’s Lien in the District of Columbia is that it carries a greater priority than other liens on the real property. Once filed, the mechanic’s lien may survive a bankruptcy or even a sale of the real property. Of note, the owner of the real property retains a “defense of payment,” meaning that all contractor and subcontractor’s Mechanic’s Liens are dismissed upon the payment in full of the general contractor.
The Notice of a Mechanic’s Lien does not need to be prefiled before construction. However, District of Columbia law does require all contractors to file a Notice of a Mechanic’s Lien at the Recorder of Deeds within 90 days of either the completion or the termination of the project, in addition to the service of the Notice on the owner of the property by certified mail within five business days of the filing. Contractors have 180 days from the filing to enforce the Mechanic’s Lien with a lawsuit, and must also file a notice with the Recorder of Deeds that a lawsuit has been filed within ten days of filing the complaint.
For more information regarding filing a Mechanic’s Lien in the District of Columbia Contact Antonoplos & Associates, 202-803-5676.