When a mechanics or materialmen’s lien has been filed in Georgia, that lien remains valid for one year from the date that the lien was filed. For many of our clients that is enough time to settle the claim and get paid-perhaps they have negotiated a settlement, participated in arbitration or mediation, or received payment in full. Unfortunately, that is not the case in every situation, and sometimes your debt is not resolved within one year. So, if you are not paid within one year, how do you get your lien to continue beyond this one year statute of limitations?
In the simplest terms, Georgia requires that you must take two steps in order to keep your construction lien enforceable for longer than one year. First, a lawsuit must be filed against the party who owes you money within one year of the date on which your lien was filed (“Lawsuit”). This is typically a standard collection law suit.
Second, within 30 days of filing your Lawsuit, you must file a document officially called a Notice of Filing of Action for Claim on Mechanics and Materialmen’s Liens (which we frequently refer to as a “Notice of Action”). The Notice of Action is filed with the real estate records where you filed your liens and must contain very specific information such as a cross-reference your original lien and detailed information related to your Lawsuit. In addition, this Notice of Action must be served on the true owner of the real estate which was liened vie certified mail. The purpose behind the Notice of Action is to let the owner know what is happening and it tells the world at large that you are enforcing your lien rights. Thus, when someone is researching a title in the real estate records, they should discover that your lien was filed; if the lien is older than a year, then they will look for a Notice of Action and discover that your lien has been extended.
The Notice of Action is a necessary part of preserving your lien rights in Georgia. If the Notice of Action isn’t filed timely (and other statutory requirements are not met) then you lien will probably be invalid. Thus, it is very important that you chose a law firm familiar with Georgia’s lien requirements in order to enforce your rights. Please contact us if we can help you in any way with either of these steps to help you enforce your lien.