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Obtaining a Mechanic’s Lien on Real Property in Washington

In Washington, any licensed contractor, subcontractor, or supplier who furnishes labor, professional services, materials, or equipment is entitled to claim a mechanic’s lien. Every person claiming a lien must file and record a notice of claim of lien, in the county where the subject property is located, no later than ninety (90) days after the person has ceased to furnish labor, professional services, materials, or equipment or the last date on which employee benefit contributions were due. See R.C.W. §60.04.091.

Notice to Customer – Any contractor agreeing to perform any contracting project for the repair, alteration, or construction of four or fewer residential units or accessory structures on such residential property when the bid or contract price totals one thousand dollars or more; or for the repair, alteration, or construction of a commercial building when the bid or contract price totals one thousand dollars or more but less than sixty thousand dollars, must provide the customer with a disclosure statement prior to starting work on the project.

Notice of Right to Claim of Lien – Every person furnishing professional services, materials, or equipment for the improvement of real property must give the owner or reputed owner notice in writing of the right to claim a lien. This notice shall also be given to the prime contractor as unless the potential lien claimant has contracted directly with the prime contractor. The notice may be given at any time but only protects the right to claim a lien for professional services, materials, or equipment supplied after the date which is sixty days before mailing the notice by certified or registered mail to the owner or reputed owner; or delivering or serving the notice personally upon the owner or reputed owner and obtaining evidence of delivery in the form of a receipt or other acknowledgment signed by the owner or reputed owner or an affidavit of service.

- In the case of new construction of a single-family residence, the notice of a right to claim a lien may be given at any time but only protects the right to claim a lien for professional services, materials, or equipment supplied after a date which is ten days before the notice is given.

Notice of Furnishing – Every potential lien claimant providing professional services where no improvement has been commenced, and the professional services provided are not visible from an inspection of the real property may record.

Notice to Lender – Withholding of Funds – Any potential lien claimant who has not received a payment within five days after the date required by their contract, invoice, employee benefit plan agreement, or purchase order may file notice within thirty-five days of the date required for payment.

Claim of Lien – Every person claiming a lien under shall file a notice of claim of lien not later than ninety days after the person has ceased to furnish labor, professional services, materials, or equipment or the last date on which employee benefit contributions were due.

Using Waivers to Release a Washington Mechanic’s Lien

Contractors who have already recorded a lien against real property may use a waiver and release of claim form to surrender their reserved lien rights in exchange for, or to encourage, payment on a balance due.

Washington law requires a lien release upon payment and acceptance of the amount due to the lien claimant and upon the demand of the owner or the person making payment. R.C.W. §60.04.071. If a claimant fails to provide a waiver or release when one is due, the owner can pursue legal action to compel deliverance of the release and if the court determines the delay was unjustified, the court can, in addition to ordering the deliverance of the release, award the costs of the action including reasonable attorneys’ fees and any damages. Id.

Given in exchange for full or partial payments, mechanic’s lien waivers can be useful at various points during the construction/improvement process. Waivers can also lead to confusion, however, and issuing the wrong kind of waiver (or issuing one too early) can cause dire consequences for the mechanic’s lien claimant. Washington’s statutes do not provide for any required forms of lien waivers, but contractors may issue their own lien releases, generally under R.C.W. §60.04.071.

There are four main types of lien waivers to choose from, depending on the circumstances of the job. These include: (1) Conditional Waiver and Release of Claim of Lien upon Progress Payment, (2) Conditional Waiver and Release of Claim of Lien upon Final Payment, (3) Unconditional Waiver and Release of Claim of Lien upon Progress Payment, and (4) Unconditional Waiver and Release of Claim of Lien upon Final Payment.

A conditional waiver becomes effective when the payment clears the bank. As such, contractors use this kind of waiver while waiting for payment, or if they need confirmation about the payment method (such as a check). Unconditional waivers take effect when delivered to the property owner. If a lien claimant issues an unconditional waiver and the owner fails to pay or the check bounces, the person receiving the waiver may be freed from all or part of the mechanic’s lien obligation without the proper payment. In these situations, the only other remedy may be a costly lawsuit.

Regardless of the terms, waivers must at least identify the claimant, the owner or person responsible for payment, payment amount, the relevant dates, and the property, and include the claimant’s signature. Record the completed waiver in the same place as the lien, generally the office responsible for the land records of the county where the property is situated.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Contact an attorney with questions about lien waivers or any other issue relating to liens in Washington.
Related Topics: | General | Mechanic Lien | Washington |
March 8, 2017, Deeds.com - Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed, you should always confirm this information with the proper agency prior to acting. The materials available at this web site are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date.
 
 
 
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