Mechanic’s (Construction) Lien Claim

A mechanic’s lien is a powerful tool for collecting money because it allows for a claim directly against the property where you furnished your labor and materials. This means that an owner may be required to pay twice.

To mitigate this situation, Wyoming law requires that you, as a potential lien claimant, provide the owner with certain notices (described below) so that the owner has an opportunity to obtain lien waivers, issue joint checks, or take other action to avoid lien claims. (I have found that these notices carry the most weight on my law firm letterhead. In fact, oftentimes my notices result in payment without having to actually file a Lien Statement or foreclosure action.)

Liens are complex and complicated. Please pay attention to the notice requirements and let me know if you have questions. You need to get this right….

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Persons entitled to lien

  • Every contractor (which also includes architects, professional engineers, and surveyors contracting with the owner), subcontractor or materialman performing any work on or furnishing (which includes selling and renting) any materials for any building or any improvement upon real property of an owner has for work done or plans or materials furnished a lien upon the building or improvements, and upon the real property of the owner on which they are situated.

Are you entitled to a lien?

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Preliminary Notice

  • Contractors must send their Preliminary Notice to the owner before receiving any payment from the owner, including advances
    • Where appropriate, I recommend that contractors include their Preliminary Notice in their prime contract with the owner.
  • Subcontractors and materialmen must send their Preliminary Notice to the owner (and provide a copy to the contractor) within thirty (30) days after first providing services or materials to the project.
  • If you fail to send a Preliminary Notice, you will have no lien rights.
  • Your Preliminary Notice must be in substantially the same format and contain the same information as that prescribed by statute. Here is Wyoming’s statutory Preliminary Notice form.

Would you like help with your Preliminary Notice?

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Notice of Intention to File Lien

  • Contractors, subcontractors, and materialman must send a Notice of Intention to File Lien to the property owner no later than twenty (20) days before filing their Lien Statement.
  • If you fail to send a Notice of Intention to File Lien, your lien will most likely be invalid.
    • There are certain circumstances under which failing to send a Notice of Intention to File Lien may not be a fatal to your lien rights. We can discuss…
  • Your Notice of Intention to File Lien must be in substantially the same format and contain the same information as that prescribed by statute. Here is Wyoming’s statutory Notice of Intention to File Lien form.

Would you like help with your Notice of Intention to File Lien?

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Lien Statement

  • Contractors must file their Lien Statement within hundred fifty (150) days of the earlier of
    • the last day when work was performed or materials furnished under contract; or
    • the date of “substantial completion” of the project. 
  • Subcontractors and materialmen must file their Lien Statement within one hundred twenty (120) days of the earlier of
    • the last day when work was performed or materials furnished under contract;
    • the date of “substantial completion” of the project; or
    • the last day the subcontractor performed work at the direction of the contractor or other person authorized to provide direction. 
  • The date of “substantial completion” is presumed to be the the date the owner records a Notice of Substantial Completion for the project.
    • The Notice of Substantial Completion only applies to contractors, subcontractors, and materialmen to whom the owner sends a copy of the Notice of Substantial Completion within five (5) days of recording the same.
  • If you fail to file your Lien Statement in accordance with deadlines set forth above, your Lien Statement will be invalid and unenforceable.
  • Your Lien Statement (or if you’re an owner, your Notice of Substantial Completion) must be in substantially the same format and contain the same information as that prescribed by statute. Here are Wyoming’s statutory Lien Statement and Notice of Substantial Completion forms.

Would you like help with your Lien Statement or Notice of Substantial Completion?

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Notice of Filing Lien

  • Within thirty (30) days after filing your Lien Statement, you must send a Notice of Filing Lien to the property owner, informing the owner of your lien. 
  • Failing to send a Notice of Filing Lien would not affect the validity of your lien, but you should still send one as it may be what gets you paid.
  • Your Notice of Filing Lien must be in substantially the same format and contain the same information as that prescribed by statute. Here is Wyoming’s statutory Notice of Filing Lien form.

Would you like help with your Notice of Filing Lien?

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Enforcement of Lien

  • A foreclosure action (a lawsuit) must be commenced within one hundred eighty (180) days after your Lien Statement was filed (i.e., recorded).
  • If you fail to commence a foreclosure action in accordance with deadline set forth above, your Lien Statement will be invalid and unenforceable.

Would you like help enforcing your lien rights? (I have a proven track record of success: see Representative Cases.)

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Lien Waivers

  • Wyoming is one of only twelve states with a statutory lien waiver.
    • With an unconditional lien wavier, make sure you have received payment before executing waiver.
      • You might avoid unconditional lien waiver with language like the following (maybe on a stamp): “THIS DOCUMENT BECOMES EFFECTIVE UPON THE UNDERSIGNED’S RECEIPT OF PAYMENT.”
  • Here is Wyoming’s statutory Lien Waiver form.

Would you like help with your Lien Waiver?

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Notice of Satisfaction of Lien

  • Within thirty (30) days after receiving payment, you must
    • release your lien by filing a Notice of Satisfaction of Lien; and
    • send a copy of the Notice of Satisfaction of Lien to the property owner.
  • If you fail to file a Notice of Satisfaction as set forth above, you may be liable for actual damages, plus damages of up to $100 per day until your Notice of Satisfaction of Lien is filed.
  • Your Notice of Satisfaction of Lien must be in substantially the same format and contain the same information as that prescribed by statute. Here is Wyoming’s statutory Notice of Satisfaction of Lien form.

Would you like help with your Notice of Satisfaction of Lien?

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Attorney Fees

  • Attorney fees are awardable to the prevailing party. You’ll want to retain an experience construction lawyer to maximize your chances for prevailing.
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Other considerations and topics for discussion

Mechanics’ liens are a great tools for collecting money. But they are complicated and complex. I have provided you with the basic steps necessary to preserve your lien rights so that we can use a mechanic’s lien as a tool to collect your money. But there is much more you will want to take into consideration that is beyond the scope of our current discussion. For example:

  • What is the extent of your lien, what property does it cover?
  • Under what circumstances can you remove–i.e., “repossess”–your property from the project site?
  • What does your lien attach to if the owner is a tenant, and is it possible to get to the landlord’s interest in the property?
  • How do you extend the deadline for filing your Lien Statement?
  • How do you determine the priority of your lien in relation to other liens and encumbrances?
  • How do you bond off a lien?
  • How do you pursue alternate security if the your lien is bonded off?
  • How and where are documents filed and sent?
  • Rather than filing a mechanic’s lien, should you be filing a lien that covers mines, quarries, oil, gas or other wells, or maybe a hybrid that covers both?

Questions?

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Wyoming Statutory Forms:

Wyoming Property Search Tools