A house lien, more commonly known as construction liens or mechanic's liens, is a mortgage-like device contractors use to ensure payment after they have completely fulfilled their obligations.
If a contractor is not paid for work, they can file and attach a lien to the property in question and force a foreclosure on the property. The proceeds from the foreclosure are then used to compensate the contractor for any unpaid work. Washington's laws regarding construction liens are very specific and must be followed closely. Failure to abide by the filing statutes may result in a forfeiture of the right to file a lien.
Send a notice to the party you will be filing the lien against. This notice should give the party 10 days to reply and to satisfy the debt owed. This action is usually enough to get payment because a construction lien has serious legal ramifications for the property owner. A lien can be filed after the 10-day period has passed.
Obtain a construction lien sample form to file. This can be obtained from a lawyer or a document service company. An example can be found on the Washington State Legislature website.
Fill out the necessary information on the lien form. The information you need to have includes the name of the party the lien will be filed against, the amount of the claim, description and address of the property in question and the owner of the property (if different than party that owes the debt), the personal information of the filing party and the date the contractual obligations ended.
File the document within the county the property is located in at the County Recording Office. You have a 90-day window to file a lien. This time frame starts to run on the date your obligations under the construction contract were completed or ended. You give up your right to file a lien after 90 days.
As with any legal matter, especially those that involve large sums of money and severe legal ramifications as is the case here, it is highly recommended that you seek the advice of an attorney to help you through the process.
- detached house image by martini from Fotolia.com