Missouri Mechanics Lien Frequently Asked Questions
It’s easy to file a Missouri mechanics lien with zlien, the nation’s leading mechanics lien compliance manager and filing service. zlien prepares Missouri mechanics liens, preliminary notices, notices of intent to lien, lien releases and cancellations, and more. To learn more about Missouri’s mechanics lien laws, read the frequently asked questions below.
Who Can File a Missouri Mechanics Lien?
In Missouri, general contractors, subcontractors, laborers, suppliers of material, equipment lessors, registered architects, engineers, and surveyors have mechanic’s lien rights. This specifically includes landscaping services. However, for equipment lessors, a lien is only allowed on commercial projects where the claim is greater than $5000.
For owner-occupied residential projects of 4 units of less, only parties with a direct contract with the owner-occupier may assert a mechanic’s lien unless the owner has signed a consent of owner document allowing mechanics liens by unpaid subs and suppliers.
When is the Deadline to File a Missouri Mechanics Lien?
In Missouri, a mechanics lien must be filed within 6 months after the last day labor and/or materials were furnished to the project.
Mechanics liens asserted by an equipment lessor must be filed within 60 days from the date on which the lessor removes the last piece of equipment from the property.
Do I Need to Send Notice the Lien Was Recorded?
No. In Missouri, the lien claimant must file the mechanics lien with the clerk of the circuit court in the county in which the property is located – and provide the required preliminary notices. There is no requirement, however, that the lien be served on any party subsequent to its recording. There is no rule prohibiting sending the lien after recordation, if the lien claimant so desires.
Can I include Attorney’s Fees, Collection Costs, or Other Amounts in the Lien Total?
No. Missouri mechanics liens do not allow attorney’s fees, interest, or consequential damages to be included in the lien amount. The amount of the lien is limited to unpaid labor, material, and/or equipment supplied to the project, and customary profit and overhead. Attorney’s fees and interest are generally awarded to the lien claimant if successful in a foreclosure action, however.
Note also that Missouri mechanics lien filings must include a “just and true account” of the amount alleged due. For general contractors this can just be a “lump sum,” although its a good idea to include as much detail as possible. Subcontractors, however, must include an itemization of the materials and labor furnished and unpaid. For a discussion of this, see this blog post: Missouri Mechanics Lien “Just And True Account” Requirement Explained By Appeals Court.
When is the Deadline to Enforce a Missouri Mechanic’s Lien, or, How Long is My Lien Effective?
In Missouri, an action to enforce a mechanics lien must be initiated within 6 months after filing the lien.
Will My Missouri Lien Have Priority Over Pre-Existing Mortgages or Construction Loans?
No. A mechanics lien will not have priority over a pre-existing mortgage or construction loan, but will have priority over subsequent encumbrances. For priority purposes, all mechanics liens relate back to the commencement of work on the project. This means that a mechanics lien would have priority over encumbrances not recorded at the time the first work began on the property.
As between competing mechanic’s liens, all lien claimants have equal priority as the liens all relate back to the same point in time.
Must the Missouri Lien Include a Legal Property Description?
Probably. While a partially deficient legal property description has been determined to be sufficient in some Missouri cases, Missouri requires a “true description of the property, or so near as to identify same” which has been generally held to be a legal description of the property. However, Missouri courts have determined that the description of the property “need not be letter perfect” and that “when the rights of third parties are not involved, the description need only be sufficient to enable one familiar with the locality to identify the premises intended to be covered by the lien.”
Must the Missouri Lien be Notarized?
Yes. Missouri requires that a mechanics lien statement be notarized in order to be valid.
Can I File a Missouri Lien if I’m Unlicensed?
Missouri does not impose any licensing requirements specifically related to a lien claimant’s ability to claim a mechanics lien. However, if a party is required to be licensed to perform the work he performs, it is unadvisable to not be licensed.
Can I File a Missouri Lien on a Condominium Project?
Yes mechanics lien may be filed against a project involving a condominium, provided the lien claimant would otherwise have valid mechanics lien rights.
Who Cancels the Missouri Lien if/when I get Paid?
In Missouri, when the claim is paid, the lien claimant is required to file a release of mechanics lien statement in the circuit court in which the lien was filed. This should be done whether or not requested by the party making payment as failure to file the release within 10 days may result in a claim for damages.
What Are the Lien Waiver Rules?
Missouri statutorily mandates that all parties on a construction project use certain legislatively designed construction lien waiver forms. This state is one of only 11 states that requires this. If a contractor or owner asks you to use a lien waiver form that does not conform to the statutory form, the waiver will be invalid, and the contractor could get in legal trouble. See this article: The 11 States with Statutory Lien Waiver Forms.
Missouri state law is unclear or silent about whether contractors and suppliers can waive their lien rights before any work on the project begins. Accordingly, you want to proceed with caution on this subject. You can learn more about such “no lien clauses” at this article: Where Can You Waive Your Lien Rights Before Payment?
Do I Need to Send a Missouri Preliminary Notice?
Yes. Missouri requires certain notices to be provided prior to asserting a mechanics lien.
All parties who contract directly with the property owner (excluding architects) must provide the owner with a disclosure notice prior to receiving any payments from the owner.
All parties who do not contract directly with the property owner on residential owner-occupied projects should have the general contractor obtain a consent of owner document (signed by the property owner), or parties who do not have a direct contract with the owner will not have lien rights.
All equipment lessors on commercial projects where the rental amount exceeds $5000 must provide the property owner with notice that the equipment is being used on the property within 5 business days from the commencement of the use of the equipment.
All claimants other than the original contractor must provide the property owner with a notice of intent to lien at least 10 days prior to recording the lien.
On residential projects, if the property owner has filed a notice of intended sale, every potential lien claimant must file a notice of lien rights with the county recorder of deeds no less than 5 days prior to the date of proposed transfer.
When do I Need to Send a Missouri Preliminary Notice?
The Disclosure Notice to Owner must be provided prior to receiving any payments from the owner.
The Notice of Equipment Lease should be provided to the owner within 5 days from the commencement of the use of the equipment.
The Notice of Intent to Lien must be provided to the owner at least 10 days prior to the recording of the lien.
The Notice of Lien Rights, if required, must be filed no less than 5 days prior to the date of the proposed transfer of the property.
What if I Send the Missouri Preliminary Notice Late?
The failure to provide the Notice to Owner when required is absolutely fatal to a valid lien claim in Missouri. Further, failure to provide this notice (with an intent to defraud) will cause the contractor to be guilty of a class B misdemeanor.
The failure to provide a Notice of Equipment Lease within the required time period is fatal to a subsequent mechanics lien claim.
The failure to provide a Notice of Lien Rights, when required, is fatal to a lien claim in Missouri.
Failure to provide the Notice of Intent to Lien within the required time period is fatal to a lien claim in Missouri.
How Should the Missouri Preliminary Notice be Sent?
There is no specific provision that sets forth how the Notice to Owner should be sent. Best practice would be to serve the owner through personal service or certified mail.
There is no specific provision regarding how the Notice of Equipment Lease must be given to the owner, it must be “provided” to the owner.
The Notice of Lien Rights must be recorded in the office of the county recorder of deeds in the county where the property is located.
The Notice of Intent to Lien must be personally served by an officer authorized to serve process, or by a person who would be a competent witness. Proof of service is required.
Do I Have to Send the Missouri Preliminary Notice to Someone Other than the Owner?
Not generally, except that a notice of lien rights must be filed in the office of the recorder of deeds in the county in which the property is located.
Is the Missouri Preliminary Notice Requirement met when sent or delivered?
Generally in Missouri, notices are considered delivered when sent by certified mail, return receipt requested unless required to be personally served, and then they are considered delivered when personally served.