In the construction industry, getting paid can sometimes be a headache. Complex pay apps, pay-when-paid clauses, disputes somewhere along the payment chain, and the industry-wide bad habit of slow payments all work against subcontractors, suppliers and other lower-tiered project stakeholders trying to get paid the money they’ve earned on a construction project, in full and on time.

Fortunately, though, there are legal tools to help construction participants get paid fairly for the labor and material they furnish. These tools – mechanics liens – are powerful, and work to get construction companies get paid what they have earned and what they deserve.

Mechanics lien can work in many different ways to get you paid, but the most important thing to remember is that they’re very effective at prompting payment. Simply put: mechanics liens work. By giving the claimant an interest in the improved property itself, the mechanics lien empowers construction participants to recover the money they’ve rightfully earned.

If you have decided to file a mechanics lien in Idaho, this step-by-step guide (starting in the next paragraph, below) will tell you how. It’s important to keep in mind that there may be preliminary notice and timing requirements that must be met prior to filing a valid Idaho mechanics lien. It can be a complicated, time consuming, and very challenging task to file a mechanics lien by yourself, but if you want to go it alone and you’re ready to file, just follow the steps below to start the lien process.

Make Sure Your Idaho Mechanics Lien Has the Required Information

It is important to make sure that your Idaho mechanics lien contains the information required by statute and conforms with the formal requirements regarding signature. If you do not include the proper information, or fail to comply with the statutory requirements for signing the lien, your lien can be determined invalid.


A Free Resource: Download the Project Information Sheet to Help You Collect Necessary Project Information

Further Reading: Information You Should Get at the Start of Every Project


Idaho mechanics liens are required to be verified under oath by the claimant (or his/her agent or attorney). An Idaho mechanics lien must contain the following information:

1) A statement of the claimant’s demand, after deducting all just credits and offsets;
2) The name of the owner, or reputed owner, if known;
3) The name of the person by whom the lien claimant was employed or to whom s/he furnished the materials; and
4) A description of the property to be charged with the lien, sufficient for identification.
5) A signature of the claimant or his/her attorney or agent verifying the lien under oath.

Special Note Regarding Signatures on Idaho Mechanics Liens

Idaho law requires that the lien claim must be “verified by the oath of the claimant, his agent or attorney, to the effect that the affiant believes the same to be just.” This is an interesting requirement in that, unlike some other states with a specific verification under oath requirement, Idaho does not require the affiant to declare under the penalty of perjury that the statement in the claim are actually true (which they absolutely should be), but rather that the claim is just.   

How To File an Idaho Mechanics Lien

Now it’s time to get that Idaho mechanics lien filed with the county recorder for the county in which the liened property is situated.

  1. Prepare lien form, taking care to include the necessary information as set forth above, and sign the document (with the verification statement) in the presence of a notary.
  2. Send the original notarized copy to the office of the county recorder for the county in which the project occurred.
    – Some counties in Idaho allow for documents to be recorded electronically. If you wish to do that, you will likely need to register with an electronic filing service, and will need to scan your lien claim so that it can be electronically submitted.
    – The lien may be delivered to the proper county recorder via mail or FedEx, or personally “walked in” to be recorded (either by you or a courier).
    – If you have decided to personally deliver the lien for recording, or if you mail/FedEx the lien to the appropriate county recorder, the proper recording fees must be included with the lien. Lien are often rejected for improper fees (even if you provide too much money). Any delay caused by needing to resubmit the lien for recording can possibly result in a missed deadline – so it’s best practice to make sure you have the proper fees the first time. Recording fees can be determined by calling the recorder, checking on the county recorder’s website, or asking in person if you physically bring the lien for filing. The fees are often set at one amount for the first page with an additional, smaller, amount for each additional page.
    – Note that your lien document must also comply with any specific margin requirements that particular county recorder may have – these can also be determined by calling the recorder’s office.
  3. Note that if you mailed your lien to the county for recording, or sent it via a courier, along with the proper fees for recording with the document, you will must include a self-addressed stamped envelope with return instructions to receive a copy of the recorded lien for your records.
  4. Idaho requires that a “true and correct copy” of the lien must be served on the property owner within 5 days of filing the claim.

How To Serve an Idaho Mechanics Lien

As noted above, an Idaho mechanics lien must be served on the property owner “no later than 5 business days following the filing of said claim.” This is a very tight time frame, so if you are mailing your lien claim to the county for filing, and providing a self-addressed stamped envelope for return of  copy of the recored lien, it is likely best practice to serve a copy of the lien at the same time you send the lien for recording.

Idaho requires the copy of the lien to be served on the owner or reputed owner either by delivering the copy personally or by mailing the copy by certified mail to the owner or reputed owner at his last known address.

Failure to properly serve the certificate of lien within the 5-day statutory deadline can invalidate the lien claim – and since this is a very tight window it pays to be prepared.

Congratulations! Once the lien document has been both filed and served on the owner – your Idaho mechanics lien is ready to get you paid what you’ve earned. While this is a powerful tool to get you paid, this may not be the end of the road – it is still possible for the lien to be challenged, or even determined invalid. Or, you may be forced to enforce your lien claim through a foreclosure action. Remember that just because a lien is recorded doesn’t necessarily make it valid, and likewise, just because a property owner (or their attorney) may make a claim that it is improper and needs to be removed doesn’t make it invalid.

Finally, an Idaho mechanics lien generally stays effective for 6 months from the date on which it was recorded – however, that period may be extended by “payment on account” or “an extension of credit given with expiration date thereof” provided that “such payment or credit and expiration date, is endorsed on the record of the lien.” This extension allows the lien to be enforced within 6 months after the date of such payment or extension.

Recording a mechanics lien can be a powerful tool in making sure you are paid what you earned. This How-To guide can empower you to take that step when and if it becomes necessary, and make sure you are treated fairly.


To Download the Practical Guide to Filing an Idaho Mechanics Lien, please click the button below.

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How to File an Idaho Mechanics Lien - A Practical Guide
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How to File an Idaho Mechanics Lien - A Practical Guide
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A step by step guide to filing a mechanics lien in Idaho | Mechanics liens are powerful tools to prompt payment for construction companies
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zlien
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