A Lien Has Been Filed, What do I Do? – On the House

A Lien Has Been Filed, What do I Do?

By on March 5, 2014
mechanics lein and what to do

Question

My problem is that the floor contractor I hired has filed a mechanic’s lien and I am having some difficulty understanding the bond you suggested (on the radio) that I file to protect me against the lien. I have filed a complaint with the Contractors’ State License Board but the Contractors’ Board was not so helpful in the area of mechanic’s liens since they deemed that it is a civil matter.

Could you please send me written information regarding the mechanic’s lien and my recourse for protection through filing a bond? Also, with whom do I file this bond and how does it get recorded?

I have included a copy of the letter I sent to the floor contractor and am wondering if you would read it to see if my complaints warrant my actions for non-payment. I have had two other floor contractors give me estimates for re-doing the first contractor’s work and both feel that the work was substandard.

LETTER: This letter is my notice to you that I am totally unsatisfied with your work on my floors and until I am, you will not receive any payment from me. I am sending a copy of this letter to the Oakland branch of the Contractors’ State License Board, the Better Business Bureau and the Board of Realtors. I have consulted with another flooring service who will testify to my complaints and will be asking another floor refinisher for their views of your work on my floors. I am prepared to file for a bond if you should proceed with your threat of a mechanic’s lien on my property. I will outline all the reasons for my dissatisfaction below.

Your contract states that you are “To sand, fill and finish hardwood floors in: 3 bedrooms, living room, dining room, halls and closets – 2 coats finish – natural color – polyurethane”. It appears that you only sanded in the master bedroom, interior hallways, and minor parts of the front entrance. If you had sanded in the living room, the floors would be smooth, level and clean throughout the room. We had verbally agreed to a satin finish. After you applied the first two coats of finish, it did appear somewhat of a satin finish. When we later complained of roughness and debris in the finish, you later applied a high gloss finish over the debris to make the floors feel smoother.

The grooves between the planks should have been cleaned of all debris before any finish coats were applied. All you did was seal in the dirt in the grooves which I pointed out to you after my first inspection of your work. You told me that you didn’t have a tool to clean the grooves. However, the contract states that you are to sand the floors. I believe this includes the grooves between the planks.

The dowels in the planks would have been level with the rest of the floors if you really had performed the sanding. Many of the dowels are still protruding above the rest of the wood floor, indicating no sanding was performed.

There is dirt in all the doorways which would have been removed had you sanded. Now this dirt is also sealed in the floors.

There is discoloration in the floors. You have stated that this is due to the sun bleaching the floors. This may be true around the windows where there is direct exposure to the sun, but not when the floors are not exposed to direct sun, like behind the door. In fact, the color of the floors where the discoloration appears is the same behind the door as those parts of the floor where the sun shines directly on the floors. It is also curious that the discoloration is an even line throughout the rooms, almost indicating that an area rug was there before. Of course the discoloration only appears in the rooms which may not have been sanded.

Wilbur

Answer

Your letter is terrific and it sounds like you have a legitimate complaint against a very sloppy contractor. It is very common for contractors to file liens when they are not paid. This is their one protection against non-payment of legitimate claims.Most consumers let the lien remain in place until the matter is adjudicated. Sometimes these matters are resolved by the home owner and their contractor, and on other occasions an arbitrator, the contractors board, the courts or some other third party entity is involved to help resolve the issue. The lien can usually be removed from your title if the contractor does not “perfect” it through the courts by getting a judgment in his favor. If he takes no legal action within 90 days after filing the lien you can ask your county clerk to remove the lien. However, chances are the contractor will sue.

The lien on your title will usually only impact you if your credit is investigated or if you attempt to sell your home.

If the lien disturbs you, you can have it removed by purchasing a “Release of Lien Bond” from an insurance company start with your own insurance carrier first. Not all insurance companies sell bonds. According to Joe Dillon a broker at Corroon and Black Insurance Services in San Francisco, California, the fee for such a bond is approximately $20.00 per thousand dollars per year with no collateral from you and $10.00 per thousand per year with collateral from you.

The insurance company that provides the bond gets the lien removed by guaranteeing to the county that the contractor will be paid should he win his judgment against you. Although the bond removes the cloud of the lien from your title, it does not eliminate any financial responsibility on your part. If the contractor wins in court you will have to pay.

Document your actions thoroughly and take lots of pictures.

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