D.C. MECHANIC’S LIEN AMENDMENT ACT OF 2012 BECOMES LAW by Brian Loffredo, Esq. On June 4, 2012, the Mechanic’s Lien Amendment Act of 2012 (the “Act”) went into effect in the District of Columbia. While the changes were not extensive, they clarified at least one very important ambiguity – the timing for recording the lien. Prior to the Act, the law required liens to be recorded “within 90 days after the earlier of the completion or termination” of the project. The language appeared simple, and seemed merely to set the last date a lien could be filed. However, the Recorder of Deeds interpreted this language as imposing an additional requirement for liens. Specifically, the Recorder of Deeds decided that claimants were precluded from filing liens prior to the completion or termination of the project. The Recorder of Deeds focused on the word “after” to mean that claimants were required to wait until completion or termination before filing their liens. Waiting until completion or termination caused problems for lien claimants. For one thing, claimants were faced with long waits before they could exercise their remedies and get paid. Additionally, many subcontractors and materialmen found that they could not accurately calculate their 90-day deadline because they did not know when the projects were completed or terminated (and thus could not determine the date to begin counting). The new Act rectifies the confusion existing under the old law by permitting liens to be filed during the construction period. No longer must claimants wait until the project has been completed. The Act brings the District of Columbia Mechanic’s Lien Law in line with the laws of neighboring jurisdictions and affords greater flexibility to claimants in exercising their rights to get paid in a timely manner.
Brian Loffredo is a principal in Offit Kurman’s Baltimore/Washington office. If you have any questions about the content of this article or other construction matters, please contact Mr. Loffredo at 301.575.0345 or firstname.lastname@example.org.