Can I file a lien for the balance of the contract not paid?


Question:
I recently was asked by an owner to provide a lien waiver for a project I and my subs performed. I provided the lien waiver to the owner but he did not pay me the full value of the contract. Can I file a lien for the balance of the contract not paid? Does the lien waiver prevent from recovering the balance of the contract.

Answer:
A proper lien waiver is supposed to have either a date identifying the period of time that the lien waiver is being signed for, or the amount of money that it represents. A lien waiver for a full contract, prior to either the full execution of the work, or the final payment is invalid.

What is referred to as a ” final lien waiver ” is signed and acknowledged at the end of the project, when the punch-list has been completed and both the owner and the contractor have agreed on the final value.

If you have not been paid the full value of the contract and you have completed the contract work, you are due the full amount of payment.

In the future, do not sign a general or full contract type of lien waiver. Submit your first bill and secure payment without any lien waiver. Then upon the presentation of the second bill, include a lien waiver that acknowledges the first payment only. In this manner, the owner will receive their lien waivers as legally advised, but you will only be waiving your right to lien on the money you have already been paid. File the lien on the project that your original question referenced, any good lawyer will easily indicate that the lien waiver you had signed was fraudulent and that full payment is due under the terms of the original contract.