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Are You Ready for the Changes in California's Mechanics Lien Law?

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Question: What is “mechanics lien law,” what is it based on and where is it found?

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Answer: Mechanics lien law is intended to protect those unpaid for improvements to real property against the owner’s unjust enrichment and consists of a series of statutes that provide remedies with regard to payment for improvements to real property. These remedies include lien rights, a right to attach construction funds, a bond remedy and remedies relating to prompt payment. In California, the mechanics lien is a constitutional right, but the statutory right existed even before the constitutional right. Most recently, it was contained in sections 3082 through 3267 of the Civil Code. Now it is found in sections 8000 through 9566 of the Civil Code.


Q: What prompted the changes in California’s mechanics lien law?


A: Old law is not necessarily good law and it was time for a change. The law, originally enacted by California’s first legislature in 1850, still contained language from 1872 and had been amended more than 150 times. It was last recodified more than 40 years ago and has been amended more than 70 times since. As a result, it became confusing and difficult to use.


Q: What was the process for changing the law?

A: In 1999, the Judiciary Committee of the California Assembly asked the California Law Revision Commission to review and make a recommendation for changes to the law. The commission made its formal recommendation in February 2008 and the new law was enacted in 2010 and 2011. It will be effective on July 1, 2012.



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