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Legal Corner – Lien Q&A

August 26, 2019

Q: I’ve completed work on a project and my client has not paid for my materials and services. Can I file a lien?

A: Yes, in Washington State if you have not been paid for your services, materials or labor on a construction project you may be able to collect the money you are owed by filing a construction lien. You need to watch the clock, as liens may not be filed later than 90 days after the last furnishing of labor, professional services, materials or equipment. Additionally, the deadline for filing a lawsuit is within eight months of recording your lien.

You must file your lien with the auditor in the county where the construction project itself is located. If the project is located in two counties, it must be recorded with both auditor offices. Most counties in Washington will allow you to file your lien electronically, however, in-person and by mail, filing are also options.

Filing a lien isn’t the end of the process, you still need to send a copy of the recorded lien by certified mail or personal service to the property owner within 14 days of filing. Most property owners do not want anything that could harm the title of their property and should be anxious to resolve the situation.

If the property owner still doesn’t budge, you may need to consider filing a lien enforcement suit. Do remember, that liens aren’t forever and expire after eight months. Once a lien has been satisfied, do remember to release your lien. This is as simple as submitting a notarized statement that includes the recorded lien’s identifying information, with a request that the lien is to be released.

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