Like every state, Virginia has its own unique process for filing mechanics liens. If you’re working on a construction project in the beautiful state of Virginia, or just supplying materials, it’s still important to educate yourself on the process so you don’t miss any critical deadlines or details. Here are ten things to keep in mind if you need to file a mechanics lien in Virginia.
Liens are On the Unpaid Balance: In some states, when you file a mechanics lien, it is for the full value of the project. In Virginia, your lien secures only the outstanding unpaid balance owed to you at the time the lien is filed.
Know Your Deadlines: Whether you’re the prime contractor, a subcontractor, or a material supplier, your preliminary notice is due 30 days after the work is performed. The mechanics lien deadline is 90 days from the last day of the month in which the labor was performed.
Enforcement Actions: If you still haven’t been paid, you’ll need to follow up your mechanics lien by starting an enforcement action. This needs to happen by the later of 6 months or 60 days after the project completes.
Make Sure You’re Licensed: For all contractors and subcontractors whose profession requires them to be licensed in the state of Virginia must be properly licensed in order to file a Virginia mechanics lien. Virginia law also requires that any contractors up the chain from you in a construction processed be licensed as well in order for your lien to be valid. Valid Virginia licensing details need to be included on the mechanics lien.
Get Your Lien Notarized: In Virginia, mechanics liens must be notarized to be valid. Your attorney will have a notary on staff as do many banks.
Mail Your Notice: You can deliver your preliminary notice by mail, but make sure to send it by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested. Keep a copy of the notice and the return receipt to prove appropriate delivery. Notices are considered delivered on the date they are sent.
Where to Send Your Notice: If you’re working on a residential project, your notice needs to go to the appropriate mechanics lien agent. Otherwise, the notice needs to go to those parties whom you are trying to hold liable for the payment, generally the owner and general contractor, as appropriate.
Lien Waiver Forms: Since Virginia does not have statutory lien waiver forms, you can use any appropriate form. However, make sure you’re careful and read the lien waiver carefully to be sure it protects your rights.
Changes in Virginia’s Lien Waiver Law: Since July 2015, Virginia law prohibits contracts signed before work commences to waive lien rights for subcontractors and suppliers.
Know Your Project Type: There are differences, especially in notice requirements, between residential and other types of projects, so be sure you know what type of project you’re working on and can follow the appropriate steps.
If you need help navigating Virginia’s mechanics lien laws, reach out to the experienced team at National Lien and Bond. They can help you understand what your timelines are for a specific project, review lien waiver forms, and help you protect your right to receive payment for your work.