South Carolina
Mechanics Lien & Notice FAQs

It’s easy to file South Carolina 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 South Carolina’s mechanics lien law, read the information below.

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South Carolina

Preliminary Notice Deadlines
15 Days

Notice of project commencement due 15 days after commencement. This provides additional protections to the general contractor against potential lien claimants.

South Carolina

Mechanics Lien Deadlines
90 Days

Lien must be filed w/in 90 days after last labor or materials furnished, enforced 6 months after last providing labor or materials.

File your South Carolina lien online now.

South Carolina

Preliminary Notice Deadlines
Prior to Lien

If contracted with a party other than the property owner, potential claimant must serve the owner and GC with a Notice of Furnishing Labor or Materials.

South Carolina

Mechanics Lien Deadlines
90 Days

Lien must be filed w/in 90 days after last labor or materials furnished, enforced 6 months after last providing labor or materials.

File your South Carolina lien online now.

South Carolina

Preliminary Notice Deadlines
Prior to Lien

If contracted with a party other than the property owner, potential claimant must serve the owner and GC with a Notice of Furnishing Labor or Materials.

South Carolina

Mechanics Lien Deadlines
90 Days

Lien must be filed w/in 90 days after last labor or materials furnished, enforced 6 months after last providing labor or materials.

File your South Carolina lien online now.

Calculate your deadline with the Payment Rights Advisor >

5 Things to Know About South Carolina Mechanics Liens

1) Licensed Contractors Have the Right to Lien

In South Carolina, any project participant that contributes labor or supplies to the erection, alteration or repair towards the improvement of a property has mechanics lien rights. This includes licensed contractors, subcontractors, laborers, design professionals (architects and engineers), surveyors, and equipment lessors.

An especially interesting fact about eligibility in South Carolina is that security guards at the site of labor as well as landscapers are also entitled to mechanics lien rights. The one condition for landscapers is that the amount of work is valued at over $5000.

Note, however, that notwithstanding the broad mechanics lien protection in South Carolina, a potential lien claimant must be licensed if performing work for which a license is required by South Carolina law, and the lien claimant’s license or registration number is required to be provided on the face of the lien claim itself.

2) The Deadline to File a Mechanics Lien in South Carolina is Unique

The deadline to file a mechanics lien in South Carolina is 90 days from the date that a project participant last provided services or materials for a project. However, unlike many other states, South Carolina has a “call-back” policy. A “call-back” generally means that although a project has been claimed “completed” a participant might be asked to perform additional services or last-minute materials. Normally these are not lienable. However, South Carolina allows a lien to be filed 90 days from the date “call-back” work was performed.

3) Preliminary Notice is Not Required but May Protect Participant Rights

It is always advisable to send a preliminary notice on any project in any state, but in South Carolina, it’s not necessarily required. A general contractor can file a Notice of Commencement within 15 days of a projects commencement to either the Clerk of Court or Register of Deeds in the property’s county. It is not mandatory, but filing this notice will better protect the rights of a general contractor. Sub-subcontractors and suppliers to subcontractors will only have rights equal to the amount that the general contractor owes to the subcontractor.

If sub-subcontractors and suppliers to subcontractors do their research, finding out that a Notice of Commencement has been filed, they may in turn file a Notice of Furnishing Labor and Materials that can be served to the general contractor via certified mail with return receipt requested further protecting their own rights.

4) Some Counties Require Proof of Service on Owner Prior to Filing the Lien

Notice the lien was filed must be provided to the property owner. Some counties in South Carolina require that a proof of service of the lien on the owner be provided prior to the recording of the lien.  However, in any event, the property owner must be served with a copy of the lien within the same 90-day period in which the lien must be filed.  If the property owner cannot be found, the lien may be served on the person in possession of the property — and an affidavit of the sheriff stating that the owner could not be found must be filed.  Note that service may not be accomplished by mail, or even by a private process server, South Carolina requires that the lien be served on the property owner (or person in possession, if the property owner cannot be found) by the sheriff.

5) Mechanics Liens Do Not Take Priority Over Prior Encumbrances

Mechanics liens do not generally take priority against prior encumbrances (mortgages etc.) in South Carolina. South Carolina generally applies the “first in time, first in right” rule, and priority is based solely on time. Generally, if there are not enough funds to pay all mechanics liens of the same class, competing liens must share funds on a pro rata basis. Subcontractors and 3rd tier parties take priority over general contractors.


South Carolina contractors are required to send a Preliminary Notice

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South Carolina Frequently Asked Questions

South Carolina Mechanics Lien FAQs

In South Carolina, parties who furnish labor and/or materials used in the “erection, alteration, or repair of a building or structure” or “for the improvement of real property” are entitled to mechanics lien protection. Mechanics lien protection in South Carolina is fairly broad. Contractors, subcontractors, laborers, design professionals (architects and engineers), surveyors, and equipment lessors are all entitled to lien rights.

Further, South Carolina allows security guards at a site of real estate improvement to claim mechanics lien protection as a laborer. Also, parties who provide landscape services (as defined by statute) are entitled to a mechanics lien when the service exceeds $5000, and was pursuant to a written contract with the owner of the property.

Note that a contractor must be licensed or registered to file a mechanics lien if he is required by law to be licensed or registered to do the work he performs.

In South Carolina, a claim of lien must be filed no later than 90 days after the last day on which the claimant furnished labor or materials to the project. Unlike many other states, South Carolina generally allows “call-back” or warranty work to extend the time period in which a lien may be filed. That is, if a party returns to do work pursuant to a warranty, or just to fix something, the 90-day period is generally counted starting from the date of that work. Note that some counties in South Carolina require a proof of service that the lien was served on the owner be provided prior to filing.

Yes. Some counties in South Carolina require that a proof of service of the lien on the owner be provided prior to the recording of the lien. However, in any event, the property owner must be served with a copy of the lien within the same 90-day period in which the lien must be filed. If the property owner cannot be found, the lien may be served on the person in possession of the property – and an affidavit of the sheriff stating that the owner could not be found must be filed. Note that service may not be accomplished by mail, or even by a private process server. South Carolina requires that the lien be served on the property owner (or person in possession, if the property owner cannot be found) by the sheriff.

Attorney’s fees and collection costs are not allowable in the lien claim itself, but the award of costs and attorney’s fees is mandatory to the prevailing party in an action on the lien (to either lien claimant or property owner, whoever prevails). The amount of costs and reasonable attorney’s fees may not exceed the amount of the lien.

In South Carolina, an action to enforce a mechanics lien must be initiated within 6 months from the last day on which the claimant furnished labor and/or materials to the project. Note that a lis pendens must also be filed in South Carolina.

Some case law suggests that an action to enforce a mechanics lien must be initiated within 6 months of the date on which the lien was filed. Because of this, it may be best practice to initiate an action to enforce a lien before the earlier of either 6 months after the lien was filed or 6 months after the date of last furnishing, just to be safe.

No. South Carolina generally applies a “first-in-time, first-in-right” rule between mechanics liens and other competing encumbrances.

As between competing mechanics liens, the time of filing is of no consequence. Competing mechanics liens (of the same class), if there are not enough funds to fully pay them all, share the funds on a pro-rata basis. Mechanics liens of subcontractors or more remote parties take priority over the lien of a general contractor.

Yes. A mechanics lien in South Carolina must be notarized in order to be valid.

No, not if you are required to be licensed by law. South Carolina requires that a contractor be licensed in order to file a mechanics lien if the contractor performs work for which he is required by law to be licensed or registered. Also, his license or registration number must be provided on the claim of lien itself.

Yes. A mechanics lien may be filed against a condominium project in South Carolina to the extent you are a party otherwise allowed to file a mechanics lien.

South Carolina lien law provides that “when a debt secured by such a lien is fully paid, the creditor, at the expense of the debtor, shall enter on the margin of the registry where the statement is recorded a discharge of his lien or shall execute a release thereof, which may be recorded where the statement is recorded.” So, the lien claimant must release the lien, but the debtor must pay for the release.

South Carolina does not have statutory lien waiver forms; therefore, you can use any lien waiver form. Since lien waivers are unregulated, be careful when reviewing and signing lien waivers.

South Carolina statutory law states that: “an agreement to waive the right to file or claim a lien for labor and materials is against public policy and is unenforceable unless payment substantially equal to the amount waived is actually made.”

To learn more about lien waivers, see our South Carolina Lien Waiver FAQs and Resources.

South Carolina Preliminary Notice FAQs

It depends. General contractors may file a Notice of Commencement with the Clerk of Court or Register of Deeds for the county in which the property is located. While this notice is not mandatory, it provides some protection to the general contractor. If the Notice of Commencement is filed, the amount of liens filed by remote claimants (sub-subs, or suppliers to subs) may not exceed the amount the general contractor owes to the subcontractor with whom the remote claimant contracted.

If the lien claimant contracted with a party other than the property owner, the potential lien claimant must deliver a Notice of Furnishing Labor or Materials prior to filing and serving the lien claim itself. Note, though, that the amount recoverable by lien of a remote claimant is limited to the amount owed by the general contractor to the party who hired the remote claimant – so earlier is better.

In order to have effect, the Notice of Commencement must be filed by the general contractor within 15 days of the commencement of work.

There is no time limit by which the Notice of Furnishing Labor or Materials is required to be filed. However, the amount recoverable by lien of a remote claimant is limited to the amount owed by the general contractor to the party who hired the remote claimant.

If the general contractor fails to timely file the notice of commencement, his payment to a subcontractor does not reduce the amount recoverable by a lower-tiered party (however, in no case may the total amount of lien exceed the amount due by the owner).

The Notice of Furnishing Labor or Materials is not required to be filed by any specific point in time, other than prior to the filing of a claim of lien. Note, though, that the amount recoverable by lien of a remote claimant is limited to the amount owed by the general contractor to the party who hired the remote claimant – so earlier is better. Also, according to some sources, it may not matter anyway if the general contractor filed a notice of commencement.

The general contractor’s Notice of Commencement must be filed with the Clerk of Court or Register of Deeds for the county in which the project is located.

The Notice of Furnishing should be served by certified mail.

The general contractor’s Notice of Commencement must be filed with the Clerk of Court or Register of Deeds for the county in which the project is located.

Notice of Furnishing should be provided to the property owner (if the noticing party contracted with the GC); or to the owner and general contractor if the noticing party contracted with a party other than the owner or GC.

The Notice of Furnishing is considered delivered when sent by certified mail.