Getting a mechanics lien completed and correctly filed can be a time consuming task. However, one of the fastest and easiest ways to save time when filing a mechanics lien or lien cancellation is to record the document online through a process called electronic filing, or e-filing.
Rather than waiting days or weeks for the county to manually process your mechanics lien claim or cancellation – not to mention the considerable amount of time you’ll have to spend waiting in line – in hundreds of counties across the country you can now record a lien in a matter of minutes or hours thanks to the availability of e-filing.
Read on for a brief discussion of the benefits of e-filing your mechanics lien documents. (Note: for the purposes of this article, “e-filing” and “e-recording” have the same meaning.)
Is e-Filing Available Everywhere?
While the number of states and counties that offer e-recording of construction documents grows with each passing year, it’s still not universally available. Several states including California, New York, and Georgia don’t offer e-filing for mechanics liens at all. In other states such as Texas and Florida, e-filing is universally available in every county. For most of the other states not specifically mentioned here, e-recording is available on a county-by-county basis.
How to e-File Your Lien Documents
Confirm e-Filing with the County
Before throwing away all of your envelopes and planning an afternoon off with the time you’ll save, make a quick call to the county to confirm that e-recording is available for mechanics liens. Unless the project you’re trying to lien is located in one of the 5 states specifically mentioned above, you’ll have close to a 50/50 chance that the county where the project is located offers e-recording.
The most common state offices that record mechanics lien claims and cancellations are the County Recorder, Register of Deeds, or the Clerk of Court. Find out which of these offices records mechanics liens in the state where your construction project is located, and make sure to call them to see what your options are!
Please do yourself a favor and don’t wait until the last minute only to find out that your project is located in a county that doesn’t have e-filing. Find this information out at the beginning of the project just in case you’ll need it later.
Check Your Tools
The construction industry knows more than anyone about the importance of having the correct tools for a job. Luckily, e-filing requires fewer tools than a typical construction project. Before attempting to e-file a mechanics lien, make sure you have the following items: a computer, high speed internet access, and a scanner.
You’re also going to need to know the state- and county-specific mechanics lien requirements (which can be quite strict and very particular). Follow this link to see zlien‘s lien and notice resources and FAQs for all 50 states.
Utilize a Technology Platform
There are commercially available technology platforms that specialize in e-Filing. Two examples are Simplifile and ePrepare. Using a commercial platform is convenient because it can hold your documents all in one place, even when sent to different offices across the United States. However, many commercial platforms require a fee in addition to the required county/state recording cost (though we’d say that, generally speaking, the fee is probably worth it).
Oh, and there’s another technology platform that can e-file your construction documents for you. Perhaps you’ve heard of it…it’s called zlien, and we hear that they’re wonderful!
Have a mechanics lien or another construction document to file or send? Click the green button below to get started with zlien.
Special Rules for Utah and Iowa
The state of Utah requires that all preliminary notices must be filed through their online registry, the Utah State Construction Registry (SCR). However, mechanics liens claims and cancellations are not allowed to be filed through the SCR.
Similarly to Utah, Iowa also has an online construction registry, but Iowa takes it one step further as their Mechanic’s Notice and Lien Registry (or “MNLR” for short) accepts both notices and liens, electronically.