Filing and Defending Against a Lien in Washington

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Who can file a lien?

If you provide “professional services, materials, or equipment for the improvement of real property” then you have lien rights on the improvement and the real property per RCW 60.04.021. For instance, if you are a tile subcontractor and you complete a $750 remodeling contract (let’s say $300 in labor and $450 in materials) you have a lien rights against the home for $750.

Do I have to give notice before filing a lien?

Yes, if you wish to file a lien then you must give proper notice. A general contractor must give proper pre-claim notice to: (a) residential owners for four or fewer units or contract value of $1,000.00 or greater; and (b) commercial contracts between $1,000.00 and $60,000.00. RCW 18.27.114. Subcontractors or material and equipment suppliers must give notice to single-family residential construction pursuant to RCW 60.04.031. If proper notice is not given then the lien is invalid. If you are a contractor make sure you give proper notification of your lien rights before the project begins.

When can I file a lien?

You must file a lien 90 days after you last worked or supplied materials to the project. RCW 60.04.091. This lien must be filed and record in the county in which the work was performed or the materials provided. If you do not file the lien within this timeframe, you lose your lien rights.

Do I have to give notice of the lien after I record it?

Yes, you must give post-claim notice within 14 days of recording the lien to the owner of the project. RCW 60.04.091.

How long do I have to foreclose on the lien if I am not paid?

After your lien is filed, you have eight months to either remove your lien or start the foreclosure process. RCW 60.04.141. If you file a lien and then settle the claim with the owner, you can drop your lien suit. If the owner still refuses to pay the amount claimed, you will have to begin the foreclosure process before the eight month window closes. You must file the lien foreclosure action in a court that has jurisdiction over the property where you supplied materials or work. You will likely need to consult an attorney to file a foreclosure action. Such actions are expensive and time-intensive so make every effort to settle the matter first!

What do I do if I am the owner and the lien is frivolous or excessive?

If you are the owner and you feel that a general or subcontractor has filed a lien for an amount that is frivolous or excessive, you may move the Court to hold a hearing in which the general or subcontractor has to show that they are making a reasonable claim. If the Court agrees with you, the Court may reduce the lien amount or award you attorney fees and costs.

Legal Disclaimer: The information on this page does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as each situation is fact specific and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. The information on this page is solely for the purpose of legal education and is intended to only provide general information about the matters stated therein. The information on this page should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area of the matters stated therein. No attorney-client relationship is formed without an actual agreement confirmed in writing. I am licensed only in Washington and Oregon.