Overview of Washington Mechanics Liens

Subcontractors providing labor, materials, or equipment to a privately-owned project have lien rights in Washington. RCW 60.04.021 

Although a subcontractor is afforded lien rights, those lien rights must be exercised by following proper procedures and meeting various deadlines. RCW 60.04.141.

In some instances, a subcontractor must provide advance notice to the owner and general contractor to be able to exercise its lien rights. RCW 60.04.031.

Generally, when a subcontractor contracts directly with the prime contractor, a pre-lien notice is not required. When required, a pre-lien notice should be given 60 days before commencing work or supplying material.  RCW 60.04.031.

To be effective, the pre-lien notice must be personally delivered – or sent via certified mail – to both the prime contractor and the owner. Unlike a prime contractor, a subcontractor does not need to provide an owner disclosure statement. RCW 18.27.114.

A subcontractor must record the mechanics lien within 90 days of being off the job. RCW 60.04.091.

If a subcontractor does not meet this deadline, then the subcontractor loses its lien rights. Once recorded, a subcontractor has fourteen days to provide the owner a copy of the lien. RCW 60.04.091. However, the consequence for failing to provide the owner timely notice of the recorded lien is only a forfeiture of any fees and costs that could otherwise be awarded against the project; the lien is still valid for the labor, materials, and equipment claimed.

To be effective, the lien must include the subcontractor's name and contact; the person owing the subcontractor's earnings; the name of the owner; a description of the property; the date work commenced; the date the subcontractor was off the job; and the principal amount claimed by the subcontractor. RCW 60.04.091.

Once a lien is properly recorded, a subcontractor has eight months from the date of recording to foreclose on the lien by filing a lawsuit in the county where the project is situated.  RCW 60.04.141.

If this deadline is not met, then the lien is void.

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