This article originally appeared in March 2016, and was updated with new information in July 2017.
Some form of a property description in addition to a municipal address is almost always required when filing a mechanics lien claim. Because a mechanics lien encumbers real property, it is essential to carefully and accurately identify the property in question. Accidentally liening the wrong neighbors might get you uninvited from the next neighborhood potluck dinner!
Generally, a mechanics lien is recorded with the property’s title information in county records. To provide order, counties can file property records by the assessor’s parcel number, or other description, instead of or in addition to the property’s full address.
For purposes of mechanics lien filings, property description requirements vary depending on which state the lien is filed in. As shown in the table (below, right) some states require a full legal property description, while others require a ‘sufficient’ description of property, which might consist of more, less, or different information than is included in a legal property description.
What Is A Legal Property Description?
A “metes and bounds” or full legal property description is quite long, and contains specific information setting forth the location and boundaries of the property. A full legal description is generally used in property sales or other transfers to completely and specifically describe the property at issue. A legal description may look something like this:
PT N2 SS2 SS2 SEC 23 DAF COM NW COR SEC 23 TH E 434.82F S 111.99F TO TPOB TH S 23.07F S 05D 42M E 30.15F S 30.02F S 07D 35M E 30.31F S 03D 49M E 60.05F S 29.96F N 84D 55M E 38.50F S 4 5D E 170.53F E 85.40F N 44D 59M E 137.27F N 87D 22M E 39.90F TO PT LRR CONC WLY TH NLY ALG ARC 121.03F TH N 02D 37M E 105.29F N 47D 03M E 37.80F TO PT NON FANG LRR CONC NLY TH ELY ALG ARC 8 5.76F S 80D 22M E 70.85F TO PT NON FANG LRR CONC NLY TH ELY ALG ARC 165.48F S 45D 18M E 24.17F E 13.75F TO TPOB ., APN 246-369-91827., Municipality / Township of Las Vegas., Township/Range/Section 2W-5E-53., Census Tract 9999.00., In the school district of 331., As described in the document recorded in CLARK, NV County on 03/02/2016 as recording number 336699
In states that don’t require a legal property description, the information that is considered ‘sufficient’ to identify a property in a mechanics lien varies by state. Such a description could include the following: reference to parcel numbers, maps location, and tract, block, and lot. It might look something like this:
LOT 1000 MB 123/987 TR 9999. APN: 246-369-91827. Map Reference: / 123-987H. Tract #: 9999.
The Statute Is Unclear on How to Identify Property in A Lien
Some state statutes don’t specify how property should be identified in a mechanics lien. In these states, it is a good practice to include as much information as possible to describe the property. In some of these states “unclear” states, going with the full legal property description is recommended as a best practice.
Different states – or practically speaking, counties – can require different information for a property description for mechanics lien purposes. So, when gathering critical information concerning your lien claim, you may want to learn what the state and county requires to sufficiently identify property at the very beginning.