<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by YOI180:
hired a cement contractor to do work around my house,took a few weeks and now have recieved a registered letter from the cement co. he used sayin that even though I may have paid him they want money from me.. Is this legea?? what are my recourses? I never ordered anything,or talked to anyone at this place,if he owes them money can they ask me for it???? thanks ..worried[/B
Materialmen can, and do, look to the landowner for satisfaction of their work and/or supplies
Under the California's Mechanic's Lien Law, persons who help to improve real property and are not paid have a right to enforce their claim against the property. This "claim" is known as a mechanic's lien. Basically, when someone files a mechanic's lien, they are making a claim on the property as security against the payment of a just debt.
In other words, the mechanic lien law allows contractors, subcontractors, laborers, materialmen, or certain others who have provided goods or services to place a lien on your home or other structure they build, improve or provide materials for if they are not paid for any portion of the goods and services they furnish. For example, if you pay your roofing contractor and he fails to pay his subcontractors or material suppliers, then those people can look to the improved property to payment, even if the owner has paid the contractor in full.
There are some important time requirements that you should be aware of regarding mechanic lien laws. A claimant such as a supplier is entitled to enforce a lien only if he gives the owner or reputed owner a preliminary twenty-days notice. All claimants other than the original contractor [the person the owner contracted with], or a laborer performing actual labor for wages, must give this notice. Therefore, people who you may not even know, such as a subcontractor or a material supplier, must notify the owner or reputed owner that they are providing supplies or services to your property which may later create a lien. This Preliminary Notice must be given no later than twenty days after the claimant has first furnished labor, services, equipment or materials to the job site. In our hypothetical, however, the job was completed in five days and a material supplier may choose not to send out the preliminary notice for an additional fifteen days. If you pay the roofer during this time gap and he does not pay for the materials, the result may be a lien against the property which will require the owner to pay for the materials again even though the price of the tile was included in the amount paid to the roofing contractor.
This hypothetical illustrated the potential problem that can result from an early payment to the roofing contractor. The owner may take certain steps to protect himself from a mechanic's lien. The owner may request the roofing contractor to furnish a payment and performance bond. (This is a different bond than the one currently required by the Contractor's License Law.) The additional cost is usually minimal and is a guarantee by the bonding company that the project will be completed and the bills paid. However, on small projects it is often impractical to obtain a payment and performance bond. Small contractors often have not established a relationship with an insurance or bonding company which allows them to obtain a payment and performance bond.
An owner may also require that the original contractor provide the owner with an unconditional lien release signed by each and every person who has performed any work or labor, as well as every person who has delivered any materials to the job. Conditional lien releases along with joint checks should be considered. An owner should get releases from each person who gave the owner a preliminary notice. In our hypothetical, the owner should not pay the roofer until the lien time period has expired or releases are obtained from those who could file a lien.
The owner of the property or his agent can record a notice of completion within ten days following the actual completion of the work of improvement. The effect of the notice of completion is to shorten the time period within which the contractors or subcontractors may file their mechanic liens. Usually claimants must record their lien within ninety days of actual completion of the work. If a notice of completion has been validly recorded, a lien must be recorded within sixty days of the recordation of the notice of completion by the original contractor and within thirty days by all other claimants, such as subcontractors and materialmen. The mechanic's lien will attach to the property as an encumbrance like a mortgage or deed of trust. The claimant must file suit within ninety days after recordation of his mechanic's lien or the lien right is lost. The complaint to foreclose the lien must be filed in the county where the real property is located.
To protect yourself and your property, immediately pay the material supplier or sub-contract laborers, and sue the contractor whom you paid to do the work for his failure to pay such material suppliers and laborers.
The above discussion is not meant to be an exhaustive review of mechanic liens. It does indicate that contracts entered into for improvement of real property may cause an encumbrance to be placed against the property unless the owner acts to protect himself.
CALIFORNIA CODES CIVIL CODE SECTION 3143-3154
3143. If the owner of property, or the owner of any interest therein, sought to be charged with a claim of lien, or any original contractor or subcontractor disputes the correctness or validity of any claim of lien, he may record in the office of the county recorder in which such claim of lien was recorded, either before or after the commencement of an action to enforce such claim of lien, a bond executed by a corporation authorized to issue surety bonds in the State of California, in a penal sum equal to 11/2 times the amount of the claim or 11/2 times the amount allocated in the claim of lien to the parcel or parcels of real property sought to be released, which bond shall be conditioned for the payment of any sum which the claimant may recover on the claim together with his cost of suit in the action, if he recovers therein. Upon the recording of such bond the real property described in such bond is released from the lien and from any action brought to foreclose such lien. The principal upon such bond may be either the owner of the property or the owner of any interest therein, or any original contractor, subcontractor, or sub-subcontractor affected by such claim of lien.
3144. (a) No lien provided for in this chapter binds any property for a longer period of time than 90 days after the recording of the claim of lien, unless within that time an action to foreclose the lien is commenced in a proper court, except that, if credit is given and notice of the fact and terms of such credit is recorded in the office of the county recorder subsequent to the recording of such claim of lien and prior to the expiration of such 90-day period, then such lien continues in force until 90 days after the expiration of such credit, but in no case longer than one year from the time of completion of the work of improvement. (b) If the claimant fails to commence an action to foreclose the lien within the time limitation provided in this section, the lien automatically shall be null and void and of no further force and effect.
3144.5. Any person who obtains a lien release bond which is recorded pursuant to Section 3143 shall give notice of the recording to the lienholder by mailing a copy of the bond to the lienholder at the address appearing on the lien. Service of the notice shall be by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested. Failure to give the notice provided by this section shall not affect the validity of the lien release bond, but the statute of limitations on any action on the bond shall be tolled un