Opinion In Mechanics Lien Appeal Speaks to Filing Deadline
In the recently decided appeal of Massey Asphalt Paving, Inc. v. Lee Land Development, Inc., the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals more clearly defined the deadline for filing an Mechanics Lien in Alabama.
Alabama Code § 35-11- 215 requires a contractor to file a statement of lien within six months of performing the last item of work, or providing the last item of material. This seems simple enough, but at times it is often very difficult to determine the date with precision. One circumstance that has made the process difficult is where the original work is complete, but where the contractor has to perform follow up work or corrective work.
The Court of Appeals noted that there was not an appellate decision in Alabama that clearly answered the question of whether or not the deadline for filing a mechanics lien is extended where the contractor performs corrective work. Typically, the six month deadline is measured from the last date that work is performed or the date that the last piece of materials is provided on the job. However, it is not unusual for a contractor to perform work after that date that is corrective work, such as warranty work of work on a punch list. The appeal in this case revolved around the fact that the lien was filed more than six months after the last date of work, but less than six months from the date of corrective work by the contractor.
The Appellate court held that one of the purposes of the statute was to provide notice to buyers that the land was encumbered by a lien based on unpaid work. To extend the six month period would defeat this purpose. Because of this, the six month period for filing the lien begins to run from the last date of work or materials, irrespective of whether there is later corrective work performed.
The opinion in the appeal also noted that there was a time limit of six months for filing a civil action to enforce the lien, and that this deadline was measured from the date that payment is due on the work.