About Liens

What you should know about liens

If you receive a lien notice, take it seriously. Let your contractor know you have received the notice. Find out what arrangements they have made to pay the sender of the notice.

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  • Expand/collapse How to avoid lien problems

    • Ask for the disclosure statement that advises you about lien releases.
      If any supplier of materials, worker or subcontractor is not paid, a lien may be filed against your property to force you to pay. You could pay twice for the same work. Or worse, an unpaid lien could lead to foreclosure on your home. For remodeling projects, you can only be held responsible for the amount left unpaid to the general contractor.
    • Before the project begins, request that your contractor post a performance bond in the amount of the project cost. That will help cover you better in case the contractor fails to complete the contract as agreed.
    • If you receive a "notice of intent" to file a lien on your property, ask your general contractor to provide you with lien release documents from the supplier or subcontractor who has sent this notice.
      The contractor is required to provide you with more information about lien release documents if you request it. Do not make further payments until this is satisfied.
    • Before making final payment for your project, require a signed lien release from all major contractors and suppliers.
    • Make your checks payable jointly to both the contractor and the subcontractor or supplier as payees.
      Upon payment and acceptance of the amount due, the owner has the right to an executed release of all lien rights by lien claimants. For details, see RCW 60.04.071.

  • Expand/collapse Who is subject to liens?

    Anyone who has hired a contractor to build a new home or are buying a newly built home is subject to a lien.

    A lien can also be held against a remodel project or an improvement to your property. However, in this case, the amount of your liability may be limited to the amount you owe the prime contractor at the time a lien is filed.

  • Expand/collapse In what timeframe can a lien be filed against you?

    A lien against a consumer has to be filed within 90 days of work stoppage or delivery of materials. The timeframe is spelled out in RCW 60.04.091.

  • Expand/collapse What can you do if a lien has been filed against you?

    If a lien is filed against you, the best way to protect yourself is to make a check payable to both, the contractor and the lien claimant to get the lien removed from the contractor [RCW 60.04.151]. You will know the lien amount because whoever files the lien must mail a copy of the lien to the consumer within 14 days of the time the lien is recorded [RCW 60.04.091(2)].

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