“Can I still file a mechanics lien if I’m unlicensed?”
This is a question we get quite often here at zlien. There are many reasons why a contractor, sub, or other construction company may find themselves without a license. Whether a deadline to renew was missed, or if acquiring a license hit an unexpected snag, from time to time a contractor might find themselves without a license, unintentionally or not. When this happens, there’s really only one way to fix the situation – you’ve got to get that license, as quickly as possible.
But what happens if a contractor has a payment issue on a project that occurred while they were unlicensed? The best remedy for any payment issue on a construction project is to file a mechanics lien. But if you weren’t licensed at the time the payment issue happened, what are your options when it comes to getting paid? Can you still file a mechanics lien if you don’t have a license?
Before we go any further, let’s clear up one important issue: this article is not about whether a contractor should or should not have a license.
Most states have some sort of licensing requirement for construction companies, and it can be extremely risky for anyone to work on a construction project without the required licenses (if any) in place. There can be penalties, fines, and all manner of trouble to get into if you are caught working on a construction project without the required license(s). We recommend that if a license is required, go get that license!
The issue we’re really talking about here is: what happens if a contractor ends up having a payment issue on a project when they did not have a license (for whatever reason).
And like so many other aspects of mechanics lien laws and requirements, the answer to this question is, “it depends on the state.”
A State-by-State Issue
In some states such as New York, the answer to this question is an unequivocal, “NO.” In other states like Colorado, the answer is a clear, “YES.” Then there are several states such as California, Florida, and Georgia where the answer is neither yes nor no. In these states, the answer is usually much more complicated and depends on several other factors.
A Free Resource to Help
Click on the image (right) or on the button (below) to download our free guide, “I Don’t Have a License – Can I File a Mechanics Lien,” which has information for all 50 states.