Mechanics Lien & Notice FAQs
It’s easy to file Alabama mechanics liens with zlien, the web’s leading all-in-one mechanics lien compliance manager and security platform. Plus, the zlien platform can help you prepare and file mechanics lien cancellations, preliminary notices, and more. To learn more about Alabama’s mechanics lien law, read the information below.
Preliminary Notice Deadlines
Mechanics Liens Deadlines
Must be filed within 6 months after the last item of work or labor has been performed. Suit to commence / enforce lien is due 6 months after debt becomes due. File your Alabama lien online now.
Preliminary Notice Deadlines
If there is not direct contract with owner, a Notice of Unpaid Lien must be provided to owner before a claimant may file a lien. While not necessarily required, sending a Notice to Owner will provide Alabama claimants greater protection. Alabama law does not specify how long prior to performance a Notice to Owner must be sent. However, for those supplying materials only, providing a Notice to Owner prior to supplying any materials may work to obtain the same lien rights as a general contractor.
Mechanics Liens Deadlines
Preliminary Notice Deadlines
If there is not direct contract with owner, a Notice of Unpaid Lien must be provided to the owner before filing for lien. If a supplier of materials only, may provide Notice to Owner prior to supplying materials to obtain the same lien rights as a general contractor.
Mechanics Liens Deadlines
5 Things to Know About Alabama Mechanics Liens
1) Preliminary Notice Is Necessary If You Did Not Contract Directly With the Owner, But Timing Is Relaxed
Alabama law does not require an “original contractor” to send a preliminary notice. An original contractor is the party who contracted directly with the owner.
For everyone else, there are a few things to know about notices.
First, anyone who did not contract with the owner must deliver a Notice of Unpaid Lien to the property owner. Alabama law does not specify the time by which this notice must be received by the property owner — only noting that it must be before filing the lien.
Second, however, a special optional rule exists for material suppliers, whereby these parties may file a Notice to Owner Prior to Performance (also known as “Notice to Owner Before Work”) to obtain the same lien rights as an “original contractor.” To gain the advantage offered by this notice, however, the material supplier must file it prior to furnishing materials.
2) Your Deadline to File an Alabama Mechanics Lien Is Dependent Upon Your Role in the Project
The deadline to file an Alabama mechanic’s lien is dependent upon the status of the lien claimant, and contingent upon first providing notice to the property owner. After providing notice to the owner, the deadlines to file a lien are as follows:
– Laborers: must file within 30 days of the date labor was last provided
– Original Contractors: Must file within 6 months after the entire debt becomes due
– All Other Claimants: Must file within 4 months after work or materials last provided
3) There Are Different Types of Alabama Mechanic Liens
There are two types of Alabama Mechanics Liens, the “Unpaid Balance Lien” and the “Full Price Lien.”
An Unpaid Balance Lien is available to parties without a contract with the owner and is only effective to money actually in the hands of the owner at the time the Notice of Unpaid Lien is delivered to the property owner.
A Full Price Lien is a lien in favor of general contractors or others in direct contact with the owner, OR materialmen who gives a Notice to Owner PRIOR to furnishing materials to the project.
4) Know The Foreclosure Deadline
Mechanics lien claims do not last forever.
Alabama mechanics lien law requires that a mechanic’s lien be enforced within 6 months from the date the entire amount became due. If this 6-month period passes without an action being filed to enforce the lien, the lien expires. This period is the same time period in which a prime contractor’s lien must be filed.
5) Alabama Mechanics Lien Rights Are (Maybe) Waivable
States generally fall into one of two categories: those who allow claimants to waive their right to lien in a contract before work is ever performed, and those who do not. The vast majority of states fall into the latter category, but Alabama may be an exception here.
The bottom line is this: be careful what you sign in Alabama.
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Alabama Frequently Asked Questions
Alabama Mechanics Lien FAQs
There are two types of mechanics liens in Alabama, the “Unpaid Balance Lien” and the “Full Price Lien.” An Unpaid Balance Lien is available to parties without a contract with the owner, and is only effective to the amount of any unpaid balance due by the owner or proprietor at the time the Notice of Unpaid Lien is delivered to the property owner. A Full Price Lien is a lien in favor of general contractors, or others in direct contact with the owner, OR materialmen who give a Notice to Owner prior to furnishing materials to the project. Surveyors, suppliers to suppliers, and design professionals are not protected by Alabama lien law.
The deadline to file an Alabama mechanics lien is dependent upon the status of the lien claimant, and contingent upon first providing notice to the property owner. After providing notice to the owner, the deadline to file a lien varies. Laborers must file within 30 days of date labor was last provided; Original contractors must file within 6 months after the last item of work or labor has been performed; And all other claimants must file within 4 months after work or materials were last provided.
No. Alabama law does not require that a lien claimant send notice after the lien is recorded.
No. Alabama law does not allow for the recovery of attorney’s fees or other miscellaneous amounts in a mechanics lien.
Alabama law requires that a mechanics lien be enforced within 6 months from the date the entire amount became due. If this 6-month period passes without an action being filed to enforce the lien, the lien expires. This period is the same time period in which a prime contractor’s lien must be filed.
No. An Alabama mechanics lien has priority over liens that attached to the property after the mechanics lien attached.
No. A mechanics lien in Alabama does not require a legal property description to be valid. A description by which the property to be liened can be located or identified is required. If the property is located in a city or town, a description by house number, name of street, and name of city or town is sufficient. If the property being liened is not located within a city or town, the lien also may extend to one acre in addition to the land upon which the improvement is situated. If no accurate description of this additional one acre can be reasonably obtained by the lien claimant, it may be sufficiently described as “one acre of land surrounding and contiguous” to the building.
Yes. A mechanics lien in Alabama must be notarized to be valid.
Yes. According to Alabama law, there is no licensing requirement for a person otherwise entitled to a mechanics lien to assert those lien rights.
You may file a lien against an individual condominium in Alabama, provided you are a party allowed to file a mechanics lien, but cannot file a lien against the condominium property as a whole subsequent to the recording of the condominium declaration. However, performing work on the common elements – if authorized by the condominium association – is deemed to have been performed or furnished with the express consent of each owner benefitted, and a lien can be filed against each unit individually.
Alabama law requires that the lienholder shall acknowledge satisfaction of the lien in the margin of the record in the office of the judge of probate within 30 days after satisfaction. Failure to grant the release subjects the lienholder to personal liability of $1000 and liability for actual damages.
Alabama 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? Also, Alabama state law prohibits contractors and suppliers from waiving their right to file a mechanics lien in contract. You can learn more about the prohibition of such “no lien clauses” at this article: Where Can You Waive Your Lien Rights Before Payment?
Alabama Preliminary Notice FAQs
Anyone contracting directly with the property owner (an “original contractor”) does not need to send preliminary notice. However, for all other parties, sending preliminary notice in Alabama results in greater lien protection.
Those who do not send a preliminary notice in Alabama are entitled to later file a mechanics lien for the Unpaid Balance amount on the project. For those who properly and timely deliver a preliminary notice, a Full Price Lien will be available. Learn more about the differences between a Full Price Lien and an Unpaid Balance Lien here.
For anyone who furnishes material (material suppliers certainly, but potentially subcontractors who supply material as well), and does not contract directly with the owner, it’s a good idea deliver a Notice to Owner prior to delivering any materials. Sending this notice entitles the sender to a Full Price Lien rather than the usual Unpaid Balance Lien.
Regardless of whether a Notice to Owner is or is not delivered, prior to filing a Statement of Lien (i.e. the mechanics lien), anyone who is not in direct contract with the owner must deliver a Notice of Unpaid Lien to the property owner.
Though Alabama’s preliminary notice rules can be dependent on certain factors, strict compliance with the statute is required. A recent court of appeals decision addressed the state’s notice requirements in Gunther v. Carpet Systems of Huntsville, Inc. Read about that opinion here: Alabama Does Require Preliminary Notices – And Strict Compliance Required.
Alabama law does not specify how long prior to performance a Notice to Owner must be sent. Presumably, there must be enough notice for the owner to respond prior to the materials being used in the project. The timing of this notice was discussed in an Alabama Appeals Court Case (October 2013): Gunther v. Carpet Systems of Huntsville, Inc. We discussed the article in a Lien Law Alert: Alabama Does Require Preliminary Notices – And Strict Compliance Is Required. There is some ambiguity about whether a notifying party must deliver the notice before every material delivery, or before the first one only, or before any material delivery where protection is desired.
As to the Notice of Unpaid Lien that must be delivered prior to filing a Statement of Lien, anyone who did not contract with the property owner must deliver a Notice of Unpaid Lien to the property owner. Alabama law does not specify the time by which this notice must be received by the property owner, it only notes that it must be before filing the lien, even if that is just immediately before. Read more about the Notice of Unpaid Lien.
If a Notice to Owner Prior to Performance is not sent, the lien claimant will not lose all rights. He will be unable to file a Full Price Lien, but will be retain his rights to file an Unpaid Balance Lien provided he follows the statutory requirements to do so. If a Notice of Unpaid Lien is not filed on time (before the Statement of Lien is filed), the lien is invalid, and will be extinguished.
A property owner must have actual notice. Notice should be sent certified mail return receipt in order to show the owner actually received notice.
No. In Alabama, notice is to be sent to the property owner, or his agent.
Alabama mechanics lien law does not specify whether the notice is considered delivered when sent or when received, but the requirement of Alabama courts that the owner receives “actual” notice seems to point to the notice being considered delivered when received by the owner or his agent.