How to File a Mechanics Lien in Georgia: Deadlines and Best Practices | Handle

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How to File a Mechanics Lien in Georgia: Deadlines and Best Practices

How to File a Mechanics Lien in Georgia: Deadlines and Best Practices

August 31, 2020

A mechanics lien is arguably the best tool you can use to recover payment from delinquent clients in construction. It is the only payment recovery remedy that encumbers a property, which means that by filing a mechanics lien, you are able to hold interest over the property and limit its market value.

Potential buyers and financiers can see your mechanics lien, and they will likely lose interest in investing in a property that has payment issues attached to it. Hence, property owners are more willing to release payment when a mechanics lien is filed.

File a Mechanics Lien in Georgia in 60 Seconds

File a Mechanics Lien in Georgia in 60 Seconds

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To protect property owners from fraudulent lien claims, strict rules and requirements are in place with regards to filing a mechanics lien. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know when filing a valid and effective mechanics lien in Georgia.

Who can file a mechanics lien in Georgia?

General contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers have the right to file a Georgia mechanics lien. Engineers, architects, surveyors, and laborers also have lien rights in Georgia.

Preliminary notices in Georgia

There are two preliminary notices in Georgia, the Notice to Contractor and the Preliminary Notice of Lien Rights.

Notice to Contractor

Who must serve a Notice to Contractor?

A Georgia Notice to Contractor must be served by a construction party that does not have a direct contractual relationship with the property owner. However, this requirement applies only if the general contractor files a valid Notice of Commencement.

Without a Notice of Commencement, you are not required to serve the owner a Notice to Contractor. The tricky part, then, is knowing if the Notice of Commencement has been recorded. It is best practice to always serve a Notice to Contractor, just to be on the safe side.

What must be on the Notice to Contractor form?

The Georgia Notice to Contractor must have the following information:

  • Your name, address, and telephone number
  • The name and address of each person to whom you provide services
  • The name of the project and the location of the project specified in the notice of commencement
  • A description of the labor, services, or materials being provided
  • The contract price or anticipated value of the labor, services, or materials to be provided

When do you serve a Notice to Contractor?

The Notice to Contractor must be served within 30 days of the date when you first furnish labor or materials to a project, or within 30 days of the date when the Notice of Commencement is filed. It must be served on the property owner and the general contractor via certified mail, registered mail, or statutory overnight delivery.

What happens if you do not serve a Notice to Contractor?

If required to do so (i.e. you have no direct contract with the owner and a valid Notice of Commencement has been filed), then failing to serve a Notice to Contractor in Georgia invalidates your lien rights over the project.

Preliminary Notice of Lien Rights

Who must file a Preliminary Notice of Lien Rights?

All potential lien claimants in Georgia have the option to file a Preliminary Notice of Lien Rights. Note that this preliminary notice is optional and not obligatory for any participant. Also note that this notice is not just served, as is usually the case for preliminary notices, but it is also filed in the clerk of superior court where the property is located.

What must be on the Preliminary Notice of Lien Rights form?

The Preliminary Notice of Lien Rights in Georgia must have the following details:

  • Your name, address, and telephone number
  • The name and address of the contractor or another person who hired you
  • The name of the owner of the real estate
  • A description sufficient to identify the real estate
  • A general description of the labor, services, or materials furnished or to be furnished

When must you file a Preliminary Notice of Lien Rights?

The notice must be filed in the clerk of superior court within 30 days of the date when you first started working on a project.

For parties who have no direct contract with the owner, you must also serve a copy of the Preliminary Notice of Lien Rights on the general contractor. Serving this copy must be done within 7 days of filing via registered or certified mail or statutory overnight delivery.

What happens if you do not file a Preliminary Notice of Lien Rights?

This is an optional notice, so your lien rights will not be directly affected if you do not file a Preliminary Notice of Lien Rights. However, lower-tier parties are encouraged to file a Georgia Preliminary Notice of Lien Rights so they can keep their lien rights intact even if a higher-tier party (e.g. general contractor) issues an affidavit or a lien waiver.

When do you file a Georgia mechanics lien

When do you file a Georgia mechanics lien?

A Georgia mechanics lien must be filed within 90 days of your last day of work. The last day of work is the day when you last furnish materials or labor to a project.

How to file a mechanics lien in Georgia

How to file a mechanics lien in Georgia

1. Prepare your Georgia mechanics lien form

Your Georgia mechanics lien form must have the following details:

  • Your name and address
  • The name and address of the property owner
  • The name and address of the general contractor
  • The name and address of the party who hired you
  • The amount being claimed
  • A description of the property location that is sufficient for identification
  • A description of the kind of labor, materials, or other services provided
  • Signature

The following statement must also be included in at least 12-point bold font:

“This claim of lien expires and is void 395 days from the date of filing of the claim of lien if no notice of commencement of lien action is filed in that time period.”

Georgia does not have a statutory template for mechanics liens, but all the information listed above must be provided. Failing to include any of the details above, including the notice statement, will be fatal to your mechanics lien claim.

Also, note that a Georgia mechanics lien must be notarized before filing.

2. Record the Georgia mechanics lien

Recording a Georgia mechanics lien may be done in person, by visiting the clerk of the superior court in the same county where the project is located. You may also mail your mechanics lien form to the clerk’s office instead of doing a walk-in visit.

The deadline for filing a Georgia mechanics lien for all participants is within 90 days of your last day of work. Failing to file a mechanics lien within this 90-day period nullifies your lien rights over the project at hand.

Note that filing a mechanics lien comes with certain fees. Be sure that you have the money to pay the filing fees when you walk into the clerk’s office, or that you include the exact amount in your parcel when you mail your mechanics lien forms. Call the clerk’s office ahead to know how much exactly you need to pay to file a mechanics lien in your county.

3. Serve a copy of the Georgia mechanics lien on the property owner

After recording the mechanics lien, you must serve a copy of it on the property owner. You have 2 days after the filing date to serve a copy of your Georgia mechanics lien on the property owner. This is a very short amount of time, so it is best practice to serve the mechanics lien copy on the same day of filing.

4. Enforce the mechanics lien

Two things can happen after you successfully file a Georgia mechanics lien: either you receive your payment or you don’t.

Mechanics liens are very effective at prompting property owners to settle a payment debt. Once your mechanics lien has been satisfied, you’re all done! You do not have to file a cancellation of lien because all mechanics liens in Georgia automatically expire after 365 days of the recordation date.

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If, unfortunately, you do not think that you will be receiving your payment, you need to enforce your mechanics lien. You enforce a mechanics lien by filing a foreclosure lawsuit. When the suit is successful, you will be able to recover your payment through the foreclosure sale of the property.

You have 365 days after the recordation date to initiate the foreclosure suit. But before you initiate a lawsuit, you may want to first send a Notice of Intent to Foreclose. Serving a Notice of Intent to Foreclose could encourage a property owner to finally release payment as they may not want to deal with a lawsuit.

Important deadlines to remember when filing a mechanics lien in Georgia

Important deadlines to remember when filing a mechanics lien in Georgia

Best practices when filing a mechanics lien in Georgia

1. Serve a preliminary notice even if not required

The Preliminary Notice of Lien Rights is optional in Georgia, while the Notice to Contractor is required only if a Notice of Commencement has been filed. Even if the requirements do not apply, you should still file these preliminary notices to ensure maximum protection for your lien rights.

2. Serve a copy of the mechanics lien on the owner on the same day of filing

You only have 2 days after recording the mechanics lien to serve a copy of it on the property owner. To avoid any compliance issues, you should deliver the mechanics lien copy on the same day that you have it recorded. Serving this copy may be done via certified mail, registered mail, or overnight delivery.

3. Serve a Notice of Intent to Foreclose prior to enforcement

A foreclosure lawsuit can be costly, so before you initiate the enforcement of your mechanics lien, consider serving a Notice of Intent to Foreclose first. This notice acts as an ultimatum that informs the property owner of your intention to file a suit, and it may just be what they need to hear before they give in and finally settle the outstanding debt.

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