How to File a Mechanics Lien in Missouri
A mechanics lien is a legal claim that can be filed by contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers to ensure payment for labor or materials provided on a construction project. Filing a mechanics lien in Missouri requires following specific steps and adhering to strict deadlines. This article will guide you through the process and provide answers to frequently asked questions.
Step 1: Understand the Basics
Before filing a mechanics lien, it is crucial to understand the basic requirements and limitations set by Missouri law:
1. Eligibility: Only those who have directly contributed to the construction project, such as contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers, are eligible to file a mechanics lien.
2. Notice Requirements: Missouri law mandates that subcontractors and suppliers must provide notice to the property owner within six months of the last delivery of labor or materials. This notice, known as a Notice of Intent to File a Mechanics Lien, must be sent via certified mail.
3. Time Limit: Mechanics liens must be filed within six months from the last day of work or the last delivery of materials.
4. Lien Amount: The lien amount should be limited to the value of the unpaid labor, materials, or both.
Step 2: Gather Essential Information
To file a mechanics lien in Missouri, you need to collect vital information about the project, property owner, and other parties involved. This includes:
1. Property Description: Accurately identify the property on which the construction work was performed. This includes the address, legal description, and any other relevant details.
2. Property Owner Details: Obtain the name and contact information of the property owner. This information can usually be found on the building permit or through public records.
3. General Contractor Information: Identify the general contractor responsible for the project. This information is crucial for determining the flow of payment and potential legal action.
4. Project Description: Provide a detailed description of the work performed, including dates, materials used, and labor provided. This will help establish the validity of your claim.
Step 3: Prepare and File the Mechanics Lien
Once you have gathered all the necessary information, you can proceed with preparing and filing the mechanics lien. Follow these steps:
1. Prepare the Lien Form: Utilize the Missouri mechanics lien form, which can be obtained from the Missouri Secretary of State’s website or other trusted sources. Ensure that you accurately fill in all the required information.
2. Notarize the Lien: Before filing the lien, make sure it is notarized. This requires signing the document in the presence of a notary public who will verify your identity.
3. File the Lien: Submit the completed and notarized mechanics lien form to the recorder of deeds in the county where the property is located. Pay the required filing fee, which varies by county.
4. Serve a Copy: Within 10 days of filing the mechanics lien, serve a copy of the lien on the property owner via certified mail with return receipt requested. Keep a record of the mailing receipt as proof of service.
Q: What happens after filing a mechanics lien?
A: After filing, the mechanics lien becomes a public record, clouding the property’s title and potentially affecting the property owner’s ability to sell or refinance. The lienholder can then proceed with legal action to enforce the lien and seek payment.
Q: How long does a mechanics lien last in Missouri?
A: A mechanics lien in Missouri is valid for one year from the date of filing, unless the lienholder initiates legal action to enforce it within that time. If legal action is taken, the lien remains in effect until the matter is resolved.
Q: Can a mechanics lien be released?
A: Yes, a mechanics lien can be released if the lienholder receives payment or reaches a settlement with the property owner. Upon satisfaction of the debt, the lienholder must file a Release of Mechanics Lien form with the recorder of deeds to clear the property’s title.
Q: Can a subcontractor file a lien if the general contractor has been paid?
A: Yes, subcontractors and suppliers can still file a mechanics lien even if the general contractor has been paid. The lien is typically directed towards the property owner, who is ultimately responsible for ensuring all parties are paid.
Q: What if the deadline for filing a mechanics lien has passed?
A: If the deadline for filing a mechanics lien has passed, you may consider other legal remedies, such as pursuing a breach of contract claim or filing a lawsuit against the party responsible for non-payment. It is advisable to consult with an attorney to explore your options.
In conclusion, filing a mechanics lien in Missouri requires careful adherence to the state’s laws and deadlines. By following the steps outlined in this article and understanding your rights as a lienholder, you can protect your interests and seek payment for the work you have performed.