Like every jurisdiction, Washington state lien laws allow builders and construction professionals to file mechanics liens, but retains its own unique state-level quirks that construction companies working in the area should be aware of.
In particular, Washington state has a number of complexities in their lien laws that require a situation-by-situation review. Here are just a handful of the details you need to pay attention to when working on private projects in this state (public projects have different guidelines).
Preliminary Notice Deadlines
Not all construction projects require a notice to owner, but some do, so it’s important to determine whether your project requires one. If you did not contract directly with the owner of a project, then you’ll be required to file a notice to owner to let them know you’re working on the project unless you’re only furnishing labor and not supplies. Further, most residential projects and smaller commercial projects (those under $60,000) require prime contractors to file a model disclosure statement before beginning work.
60 Days After Work Begins
Subcontractors and suppliers must file a notice of right to claim lien within 60 days of first supplying work or delivering materials to a project site. Sub-subcontractors are also included in this timeline, but suppliers to suppliers are not able to file mechanics liens on a project. Who needs to receive the notice of right to claim lien depends on the specifics of the situation.
Timeline for Filing Mechanics Liens
90 days after a party last supplied labor or delivered materials, mechanics liens are due. Once they are filed, you have 14 days to notify the owner of your lien and eight months to enforce or cancel the lien. This deadline cannot be shortened or extended by contract, so it’s important to pay attention to this deadline because any liens filed afterwards are void. Liens must be notarized and most counties in Washington allow for electronic filing, so the more complicated pieces of the process are recordkeeping and tracking the dates to ensure you file in a timely fashion.
Lien Waiver Forms
Lien waiver forms are not set by Washington state lien law as they are in many states, so it’s important to review any lien waivers you’re given to be sure they’re fair and accurate before signing. A conditional lien waiver, for example, only removes your right to file a lien once you’ve been paid for your work on the project. An unconditional waiver, on the other hand, removes your right to file a lien regardless of whether you’ve first received payment.
If you’re new to working in Washington, taking on a different type of project, or managing projects across multiple jurisdictions, you may want to consult with an experienced construction law attorney to ensure you’re meeting all the necessary requirements to preserve your right to file a mechanics lien. National Lien & Bond counsels construction operations of all sizes across all 50 states. Reach out to schedule one of our lien seminars for your business to learn more about the importance of good business processes and oversight in preserving your right to get paid.
This blog is for educational purposes only and not intended for legal advice.