Construction Liens In Washington State

Posted: Apr 22, 2019

By: Washington State Business Law and Litigation Lawyer Babak Shamsi

In Washington, disputes in construction projects often involve complex issues between numerous parties.  Parties to a construction project may include prime contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and laborers, all of whom work with the expectation of compensation for their services.  When these parties are not paid for their work they may file and attempt to enforce liens to ensure their rightful payment.  RCW 60.04 governs the filing and enforcement of mechanics’ and materialmen’s liens, which are a crucial tool for collection efforts pertaining to unpaid construction work.  However, legal representation is often necessary to navigate through the nuanced statutory requirements.

Pre-Claim Notice

Under most circumstances, proper protection of lien rights begins with delivery of a pre-claim notice to the owner or reputed owner of the property. According to RCW 60.04.031(1), “every person furnishing professional services, materials, or equipment for the improvement of real property shall give the owner or reputed owner notice in writing of the right to claim a lien.”  While pre-claim notices are not required in all circumstances, and there are specific statutory exceptions to the rule, it is often best practice to simply provide a pre-claim notice to protect lien rights.  However, if you have worked on a construction project and have not provided a pre-claim notice, it may be helpful to consult a lawyer to better understand your particular rights and responsibilities.

Limited Windows of Opportunity

Another unique aspect of RCW 60.04 is the strict time limitation surrounding both the recording and enforcement of a lien.  RCW 60.04.091 states that the lien must be recorded no later than 90 days after the party has ceased to furnish labor, services, materials, or equipment. Furthermore, RCW 60.04.141 requires a lawsuit be filed no later than 8 calendar months after recording the claim of lien in order to enforce the lien.  Failure to meet these requirements can result in serious adverse consequences.

Liens are complex – Legal Assistance may be Prudent.

This brief synopsis represents only a few of the major issues that arise in construction disputes.  Each case presents unique challenges.  The lawyers at Beresford Booth hold many years’ experience successfully addressing construction disputes and would be pleased to assist you.

Beresford Booth PLLC (425.776.4100),

BERESFORD BOOTH PLLC has made this content available to the general public for informational purposes only. The information on this site is not intended to convey legal opinions or legal advice.