If you are a contractor or supplier who has provided services or materials to a construction project and have not been paid, you may be wondering what your next steps should be. One option available to you is a mechanics lien. A mechanics lien is a legal claim that you can file in order to get paid for the services or materials you have provided to a project.
In this article, we will provide an overview of the mechanics lien process in Kansas and Missouri, including what information is needed to file and the relevant statute of limitations.
Let’s start with a look at Kansas mechanics liens, then we’ll cover the same process for Missouri contractors.
Kansas Mechanics Liens
In Kansas, contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers may be entitled to a mechanics lien if they are not paid for their labor or materials. It’s worth noting, however, the suppliers only have lien rights if the materials they supplied were actually used in the project (delivery alone is not sufficient for a lien). Architects and engineers may also be able to file mechanics liens for projects that have already commenced.
The timeframe for filing a mechanic’s lien varies from 3-5 months depending on several factors. Subcontractors who are not in direct contract with the property owner have to file their lien within 3 months of the date they last provided materials or labor. Claimants who are in direct contract with the property owner (e.g. general contractors) must file their lien within 4 months from the date they last provided materials or labor. These deadlines can be extended by one month, respectively, if a notice of extension is filed with the district court where the property is located and served upon the property owner.
When a contractor files a mechanic’s lien, they must follow certain procedures. On residential projects, notice must be filed prior to filing the lien.
Also, the lien must:
- Include a description of the property subject to the lien. While a legal description of the property is not required for enforcement, it is highly recommended.
- Include a verfied statement showing the name of the owner, the address where the owner can be served and an itemized accounting of the amount owed. While the lien cannot include attorneys’ fees or collection costs, interest can be included if it was part of a contract between the contractor and property owner.
- Be notarized.
Once the lien is recorded with the district court in the county where the property is located, a copy must be served on the property owner. It is best to serve the property owner by both certified and regular mail, although other service options may be available.
To enforce the mechanic’s lien, the claimant (the contractor, subcontractor, or supplier) must initiate an action with the court within 1 year of the date the lien was filed. In Kansas, mechanics liens have priority over most other forms of debt, including federal tax liens.
In Missouri, general contractors, laborers, equipment lessors, architects, engineers, and surveyors may be entitled to a mechanics lien if they are not paid for their labor or materials. Landscaping service providers may also file a mechanics lien in Missouri. It is worth noting that equipment lessors are only entitled to a lien on commercial projects where their claim is more than $5,000. Subcontractors and suppliers who do not have a direct contract with the property owner may only file a mechanics lien if the owner has signed a Consent of Owner document allowing mechanics liens.
All Missouri mechanics’ liens must be filed within 6 months of the last date labor or materials were provided. Equipment lessers must file their liens within 60 days from the date they removed the last piece of equipment from the property in question.
In Missouri, the lien must be filed with the Circuit Court in the county where the property is located. There are no notice requirements for Missouri mechanics’ liens, however, the contractor can send the owner a copy of the lien after it is recorded, if they so desire. The lien should include an itemized accounting of the amounts due, with as much detail as possible. While a lump sum total will not invalidate your mechanic’s lien, it is always a good idea to provide as much detail as possible.
It is important to know that Missouri does not allow the inclusion of attorneys’ fees, interest, or damages to be included in the lien. The amount of the lien is limited to the total unpaid labor and/or materials plus customary profit and overhead.
The lien should also include a legal description of the property and be notarized.
To enforce the mechanic’s lien, the claimant (the contractor, subcontractor, or supplier) must initiate an action with the court within 6 months of the date the lien was filed. In Missouri, mechanics liens have priority over debt incurred after the project (for which the lien was filed) started. When the lien is paid, it is important that the claimant remember to file a release of mechanics lien statement. The lien release must be filed in the Circuit Court where the lien was filed within 10 days of final payment or the claimant could be held liable for damages.
Getting paid on time is a struggle for many small businesses. And the longer payment is delayed, the more risk there is that you won’t get paid at all. At Grissom Miller, our attorneys are well-versed in both Kansas and Missouri mechanics’ liens. Contact us today and we’ll help you navigate each step of the process – so you can get paid as quickly as possible while complying with the law. To get started please fill out our mechanics lien intake form here: https://grissommiller.cliogrow.com/intake/e73b4e154b70a6a2191e812a80ee1dd0