When do I need to file a materialman’s lien in Georgia?
According to many telephone conversations with potential clients, this is the question of the week! If you don’t know, then let us say it clearly, all construction liens (this includes supplier liens, subcontractor liens, contractor liens, mechanic liens, and materialman liens) must be filed within 90 days from the last day in which the lien claimant actually worked on the project–this deadline is not based on invoice dates!
Well, a lot of potential lien claimants seem to know this, but they are unclear how to put this into practice, and we understand because this can be confusing. Here are some tips to help you navigate Georgia’s Lien Deadlines:
Make Sure You Calculate the 90 Day Deadline Correctly: We recently had someone contact us who assured us that there were still a few days in which a materialmen’s lien could be timely filed; as soon as we calculated the deadline ourselves, it was apparent that the deadline had already expired: Our caller made three mistakes:
- Count Days Not Months: Our caller was using months to calculate the deadline–he was counting November 22 to December 22 to January 22 to February 22 instead of counting actual days; unfortunately, Georgia liens must be filed within a 90 day deadline and this caller’s information failed to take into account December’s 31st day and January 31st day. Consequently, his right to file a mechanic’s lien in Georgia did not expire February 5, it expired a few days earlier;
- Liens Need to be Filed Within 90 Days: Furthermore, our caller thought the lien could be filed on the 90th day; in reality, the lien should be filed prior to the 90th day following the last day worked.
- Weekends and Holidays Do Not Extend Deadline: Due to the randomness of the calendar, our caller’s 90th day following the last day worked fell on a Monday; since all Georgia liens must be filed within 90 days of the last day worked, that meant his claim of lien had be filed Sunday or before. As you know, courthouses are closed on Saturday and Sunday which shortened our caller’s deadline to file a Georgia lien to Friday–87 days from the date he last worked on the project!
Practical Tip # 1: It may help you to think of the filing deadline in the following manner: all mechanics and materialmen’s liens in Georgia must be filed on or before the 89th day from the last day in which the lien claimant performed services or supplied materials to the project (and neither holidays nor weekends extend this deadline.)
This week, we also had a potential lien claimant who just finished his work on a construction project in Georgia, but he had not been paid. He wanted to file a materialmen’s lien as soon as possible. And, that is his legal right. This leads us to the question, When should someone who is not receiving payment for their labor or materials on a construction project file a lien? Every situation is different–and filing mechanics’ liens should be based upon each unique circumstance–but a general rule of thumb is the soon the better. There are many, many reasons for this, but here are some of the common reasons for filing your Georgia lien sooner rather than later:
- filing a mechanic’s lien sooner may give you priority against other creditors or other lien claimants;
- filing a mechanic’s lien sooner may help you get paid sooner as there may still be retainage on the project (which might be paid to you);
- filing a mechanic’s lien sooner will prevent problems such as missing any deadlines;
- filing a mechanic’s lien sooner will give the attorney filing the construction lien time to do it in his regular course of business (no rush fees!)
- filing a mechanic’s lien sooner can lower your costs–liens can be mailed to the court, for example, rather than being sent by courier or overnight delivery;
- as a rule of thumb, the sooner you begin exercising your right to file a lien, the sooner, you’ll get paid.
Practical Tip # 2: Don’t wait until the last minute to file a construction lien in the State of Georgia; instead, file it as soon as you realize that you may not get paid.
The Cobb Law Group focuses its practice on filing and perfecting every type of construction lien throughout the entire state. If you have any questions, please contact us. Also, please leave comments about your experiences with meeting lien filing deadlines.