In the past, we’ve posted about the importance of filing your lien timely and correctly. Just a small defect in the legal property description, or the omission of something in the contents of the lien can render your lien null and void.
As soon as a lien claimant has their lien challenged as improper, the first thing they want to do is file an amendment. And this brings us to a very important question: Can you amend a defective lien?
In most states, claimants are only allowed to amend the lien to include missing information only if the amendment is made before the original lien period expires.
I stumbled upon a case out of North Carolina addressing this issue. In Gaston Grading v. Young, the NC Court of Appeals explained this general rule:
…if plaintiff wished to correct the mistakes of its second lien, plaintiff was required to cancel the second lien and substitute a new claim of lien containing the correct information. Plaintiff failed to do so within the prescribed time and thus, its claim of lien is void.
While each state’s treatment of this issue may differ, it does seem the be the dominant rule in the United States. I practice law in Washington, Oregon and Louisiana, and those three states treat amended liens similarly to North Carolina.
This is why I’ve titled this post, “You May Only Get One Shot To File Your Mechanics Lien.” While you can – in theory – amend the lien if you make a mistake, you’re still stuck with the time restrictions of your state. When you file the lien the first time, you should get it right.