Almost every day, we get great questions from clients and potential clients! In the last few days, we have had several people ask us how to remove an expired lien in Georgia. Unlike many questions, this question has a relatively simple answer.
Before revealing all of our secrets, let’s take a moment to look at the background. In Georgia, Mechanic’s Liens and Materialmen’s Liens are filed in the real estate records in the county where the construction project occurred. Thus, such a construction lien becomes part of the county’s public records and anybody with an interest can research the deed records and find the mechanic’s lien. Even if the subsequently paid in full–and marked cancelled–the mechanic’s lien is a part of the public record.
Georgia views Mechanics Liens as clouds upon the real estate title. Thus, property owners are usually concerned when a lien is filed against their real estate. In fact, a properly filed mechanic’s lien will complicate many efforts of the real property owner. For example, a lien will likely cause some issues if the real estate owner attempts to refinance or sell the property.
As regularly readers of this blog know, a lien is only valid for one-year from the date on which the lien was filed unless the lien claimant files a lawsuit (and meets other statutory obligations) before the year’s end. Although many liens are not pursued by the lien claimant, the mechanic’s lien is still in the real estate records and the real property owners are concerned that it may still cloud their title. Until the 2009 changes to Georgia’s lien law, they were right. In fact, if there is a mechanic’s lien which was filed prior to March 31, 2009, then there is a procedure which the real property owner must go through to petition the court to have the lien marked void.
Mechanics Liens filed in Georgia after March 31, 2009 which are not perfected within 395 days automatically expire, and the real estate property owner does not have to take any affirmative action to have the lien removed. If a lien claimant fails to commence a lien action to collect the amount of his claim within 365 days from the date of filing the claim of lien (or their failure to meet the other statutory requirements), then the claim of lien is unenforceable. In fact, liens filed after the 2009 changes explicitly state “This claim of lien expires and is void 395 days from the date of filing of the claim of lien in no Notice of Commencement of lien action if filed in that time period” which lets all the world know that the lien is unenforceable.
If you are a real property owner who has lien placed against your property, we’d love to hear about your comments and experiences.