Category: Mechanic’s Liens
Maryland & Washington D.C.’s Mechanic’s Lien Process
A mechanic’s lien is used to secure payment due on a construction project. As stated in my previous article, “What is a Mechanic’s Lien? A Brief Guide” individual states have their own laws and guidelines surrounding the filing process of a mechanic’s lien. Understanding this process for one’s local jurisdiction is crucial, as missing any of the required deadlines will usually forfeit your lien rights.
This article examines some of the differences, including important deadlines, between the mechanic’s lien process in Maryland and Washington, D.C. – a stone’s throw from each other but yet worlds apart.
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Maryland Mechanic’s Liens
In Maryland, mechanic’s liens must meet certain requirements – in addition to regular filing deadlines – to be considered valid. These deadlines are outlined below:
- If the building is not being newly constructed, the materials or services supplied by the filer of the mechanic’s lien must have improved, rebuilt, or repaired the property by at least 15% of its value
- For subcontractors, sub-subcontractors, suppliers, and others: a Notice of Intent to Lien must be served on the property owner(s) within 120 days of the filer’s last day of labor or materials provided on the project – this Notice must contain approximately seven different categories of information, including a description of the building(s), a description of the work performed, the start and end dates of the work, the amount of the entire undertaking and the amount due and owing, and the name of the person or entity to whom the work was furnished.
- A Notice of Intent to Lien is not required for general contractors in Maryland, so long as the general contractor had a direct contract with the fee simple owner of the property, or with a tenant in the case of a leasehold interest
- A Petition to Establish a Lien must be filed in the county’s circuit court where the property is located within 180 days of the filer’s last day of labor or materials provided on the project
- If the filer of the mechanic’s lien is a corporation, that corporation must be registered in the State of Maryland to hold valid lien rights
NOTE: In Maryland, state laws also extend mechanic’s lien rights to architects, surveyors, engineers, and even certified interior designers. Additionally, a formal contract is not explicitly required in order to file a mechanic’s lien in Maryland.
Now, let’s examine some of the laws and guidelines surrounding mechanic’s liens in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C. Mechanic’s Liens
In Washington, D.C., there are unique requirements that must be met to hold valid claim to mechanic’s lien rights. Those requirements are outlined below:
- Only general contractors and subcontractors properly registered to transact business in the District are typically entitled to mechanic’s lien rights
- Laws outlining whether architects are entitled to lien rights are ambiguous and best determined on a case-by-case basis
- Suppliers are not eligible for lien rights
- If the construction project is an owner-occupied one- or two-family residence, then only parties directly contracted with the owner are entitled to lien rights
- A Preliminary Notice of Intent to Lien is not required by D.C. law
- Contractors and subcontractors should still utilize preliminary notices during regular operations to reduce the risk of payment problems
- A mechanic’s lien must be filed with the Recorder of Deed within 90 days of the completion or termination of the project
- Whichever date is earlier will be the final filing deadline
- The filer of the mechanic’s lien must then initiate an action to enforce the lien in D.C. Superior Court within 180 days of the mechanic’s lien filing date.
- Additionally, a notice of Pendency of Action must be recorded within 10 days of this action
As you can see, the laws and deadlines surrounding mechanic’s liens in Maryland and Washington, D.C. have important differences and require unique considerations to ensure that all applicable laws are followed. If just one step is misaligned, the lien remedy can be quickly denied, leaving only standard breach of contract options available.
Joe Katz has over 15+ years of experience filing mechanic’s liens within Maryland and Washington, D.C. Consider requesting a free, 15-minute consultation to discuss your mechanic’s lien filing, , today.