We all know the importance of filing a construction lien within 120 days of your last work (90 days in Iowa). But, equally, if not more important, is filing the construction lien on the correct property.
Often times on a construction project, the exact address of the project may not be known. And, if there are a few buildings going up on the same general site, it is difficult to determine which property or building address you are working on.
Sometimes you can look at the contract. For example, the AIA family of documents lists the address on the first page. But, what if the wrong address is listed? What if the wrong owner is listed?
A good place to start your property search is the County Register of Deeds or the County Assessor. These county offices can usually be accessed through the internet. From their websites, you should be able to find a map of the general area, identify the parcels that are involved in the project, and the specific owner of each parcel. You may then be able to determine the legal description of the property you are working on and the proper title and address of the entity that owns that property. If you still can’t find the answer, consider hiring a title company to look into the proper description and owner.
The importance of filing your lien on the correct property cannot be overstated. If you file your lien on day 119 and find out on day 122 that you filed on the wrong property, your lien rights are probably gone.
Take Away: Take the time to research the legal description and ownership of the property on which you are filing your lien well before the deadline, or you may find yourself out of time to file your lien.