In the previous post, we explained how construction liens offer assurance to contractors and suppliers that they will be paid for their work or materials. In this post, we look at how liens are registered.
A construction lien exists when work starts or materials supplied for improvements on or to the land. Generally, liens for materials, services or wages must be registered within 45 days from the date of delivery of the final resources for the improvement or the project was abandoned. The lien expires automatically on abandoned projects.
A lien must be registered within 45 days after the landowner issues a Certificate of Substantial Performance. Liens do not attach to work completed before the Certificate was issued if they are not properly registered.
Liens on improvements on or to gas and oil wells, or to a gas or oil well site must be registered within 90 days from the completion, abandonment or issuance of the Certificate of Substantial Performance. The courts have not clearly established what legally comprises a gas or oil well site, so these liens should be registered within 45 days to ensure that the lien will attach to the land.
Any work improperly done and later repaired, or that was not done, is not included when calculating the time limit for registering a lien. The 45 days cannot be extended because a contractor comes back to the land to carry out additional work that it should have already finished.
Lien registration may be permitted for periods longer than 45 days under certain conditions. In a ‘previenient arrangement’, a supplier or subcontractor supplies materials or services from time to time, usually at different work locations. The time limit for registering a lien under a previenient arrangement runs from the date of the final delivery of materials or services as agreed by the owner and the supplier or subcontractor. Courts require that the parties concerned agree beforehand to the previenient arrangement before they will recognize its existence.
Liens claimants who are uncertain about how and when liens should be registered should consult lawyers experienced in registering construction liens. They can provide guidance about the lien registration process.