Ohio Mechanics Lien Frequently Asked Questions
It’s easy to file an Ohio mechanics lien with zlien, the nation’s leading mechanics lien compliance manager and filing service. zlien prepares Ohio mechanics liens, preliminary notices, notices of intent to lien, lien releases and cancellations, and more. To learn more about Ohio’s mechanics lien laws, read the frequently asked questions below.
Who Can File a Ohio Mechanics Lien?
In Ohio, general contractors, subcontractors, laborers, and suppliers are afforded the protection of mechanics liens. Further, construction managers also have lien rights
When is the Deadline to File a Ohio Mechanics Lien?
In Ohio, the deadline by which a mechanics lien must be filed depends on the project type and nature of the building. For all projects except owner-occupied residences (single condominium or 1-2 family dwellings) the lien must be filed within 75 days of the lien claimant’s last furnishing of labor and/or materials to the project.
For projects involving an owner-occupied condominium or 1-2 family dwelling, the lien must be filed within 60 days from the date the lien claimant last furnished labor or materials to the project. It is important to consider, however, that the lien will not attach to the property if the general contractor is paid prior to the owner receiving notice of the lien. Considering that, earlier filing may be advisable on owner-occupied residential projects.
Finally, liens on gas and oil wells are required to be filed within 120 days after the claimant’s last furnishing of labor and/or materials.
Do I Need to Send Notice the Lien Was Recorded?
Yes. It is required that notice of the filed mechanics lien be sent to the property owner. The lien must be served on the property owner within 30 days after the filing of the lien, or if the property owner is not within the county where the project occurred, it may be posted within 40 days of filing. As stated above, for residential projects, the lien does not attach to the unpaid contract funds until the property owner receives notice – therefore it is in the best interest of the lien claimant to make sure the owner is served as soon as possible. Especially if there is the possibility of the owner making payment to the general contractor soon after the lien claimant files his/her lien.
It is also worth noting that all owners must be served, if there is more than one owner – this includes spouses, and part or co-owners. The lien is only valid against the interests of the owners.
Can I include Attorney’s Fees, Collection Costs, or Other Amounts in the Lien Total?
No. Extra amounts can not be included in Ohio mechanics liens. In fact, if the lien claimant is not in direct contract with the property owner, even interest is not allowed. Attorney’s fees may be awarded to a lien claimant in a successful foreclosure action at the discretion of the court.
When is the Deadline to Enforce a Ohio Mechanics Lien, or, How Long is My Lien Effective?
Ohio mechanics liens have a relatively long life when compared to those in many other states. In Ohio, the lien expires 6 years after the date of filing.
Will My Ohio Lien Have Priority Over Pre-Existing Mortgages or Construction Loans?
Generally not. A construction mortgage or other encumbrance that is recorded prior to the Notice of Commencement or commencement of work has priority over any mechanics lien filed thereafter. If the Notice of Commencement and a construction mortgage are filed on the same day, the construction mortgage still has priority.
As between competing mechanics liens, the liens of laborers have first priority, and all other mechanics liens are equal.
Must the Ohio Lien Include a Legal Property Description?
No. Ohio does not require a legal description in order for a lien to be valid. In fact, Ohio is fairly relaxed on the description of the property the lien requires.
Must the Ohio Lien be Notarized?
Yes. Ohio requires the lien to be notarized in order to be valid.
Can I File a Ohio Lien if I’m Unlicensed?
Ohio mechanics lien law does not impose any specific licensing requirement in order to file a valid mechanics lien. However, it is never a good idea to perform work for which a license is required without having the proper license.
Can I File a Ohio Lien on a Condominium Project?
Yes. A mechanics lien may be filed against a condominium project in Ohio to the extent you are a party otherwise allowed to file a mechanics lien.
Who Cancels the Ohio Lien if/when I get Paid?
In Ohio, the lien holder is mandated to release his lien within 30 days of the lien’s satisfaction. Failure to do so renders the lien holder liable to the owner for any damages arising from the failure to release the lien – not to exceed the amount of the lien and costs.
What Are the Lien Waiver Rules?
Ohio does not have statutory lien waiver forms, and therefore, you can use any lien waiver forms. Since lien waivers are unregulated, be careful when reviewing and signing lien waivers. See this article: Should You Sign That Lien Waiver?.
Ohio 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 Ohio Preliminary Notice?
It depends. All parties who did not contract directly with the property owner (excluding laborers) must file a Notice of Furnishing. If the property owner does not record a Notice of Commencement, or records a defective Notice of Commencement, a preliminary notice is not required – but it is generally considered to be best practice to give notice anyway. Ohio does not require preliminary notices for projects on 1 or 3 family residences and condominiums, but it is generally advisable to give notice anyway.
When do I Need to Send a Ohio Preliminary Notice?
The Notice of Furnishing must be received or mailed by certified mail within 21 days from the claimant’s first furnishing of labor and/or materials when a Notice of Commencement has been properly filed with the county recorded. Early notice is ineffective, and if sent by certified mail, it must be sent after the first delivery of labor and/or materials.
If the Notice of Commencement was filed late, the preliminary notice must be given within 21 days from the date the Notice of Commencement was filed. A potential lien claimant is not required to give preliminary notice prior to the filing of the Notice of Commencement, if the Notice of Commencement is never filed, the preliminary notice is not necessary.
Finally, if the property owner, or any other party with an interest in the property or contractor requests – the lien claimant must provide a written statement of the work and/or material provided and the amount unpaid within 10 days of the request. Failure to do so may extinguish lien rights.
What if I Send the Ohio Preliminary Notice Late?
If the preliminary notice is given late, not all is necessarily lost. The preliminary notice relates back 21 days from the date of service. Therefore, a late preliminary notice would be effective as to any work performed in the preceding 21 days, but ineffective to work performed prior.
How Should the Ohio Preliminary Notice be Sent?
The preliminary notice must either be personally served by the county sheriff (or by other means as provided by Ohio law) or by certified mail, registered mail, overnight delivery, or hand delivery, provided a written receipt is provided.
Do I Have to Send the Ohio Preliminary Notice to Someone Other than the Owner?
The preliminary notice must be given to the owner’s (or part owner’s or lessee’s) designee as provided by the Notice of Commencement. If no designee is given, or the designee has dies or otherwise ceased to exist, the notice must be provided to the owner, part owner, or lessee.
The preliminary notice must also be provided to the general contractor if the lien claimant is not in direct contract with the general contractor – subject to some exceptions.
Finally, the preliminary notice may be given to any construction or other lender – but this is purely at the discretion of the lien claimant.
Is the Ohio Preliminary Notice Requirement met when sent or delivered?
If sent by certified mail, the preliminary notice is considered complete on the date of mailing. If service on the owner is attempted at the address listed on the notice of commencement and the service is returned or refused the service is considered complete on the first date of the first attempt.
Service by personal service is complete when actually served.