General Information
Bond or Lien Claim Forms

Warning: All information contained within this data base is subject to change at any time by the various states and is not guaranteed in any way by FWM Software. Nor does FWM Software assume any liability or responsibility for it's content. Please use in conjunction with advice from your attorney.

Description: These legal documents are used to file liens against real property, in the case of a private work, or against public funds held in trust, in the case of a public work. The various states have widely different requirements as to procedures to effect a lien.

In addition, many states do not allow recovery from the state itself, but only from the Public Bond for the job, if any. Be sure to obtain a copy of the Public Bond if at all possible.

Scope: In the case of Private Works, all states. In the case of Public Works, not all states allow lien claims. See below on special restrictions.

Time Constraints: Liens must generally be filed within 60days to 2 years. See the requirements for the individual state. Many states have Preliminary Notice, Lien Warning Notice or Lien Notice requirements. See the general information memos for these categories or the Bond or Lien Claim memo for the individual state for more information.

Information Requirements: Program information and information for Exhibits A-D. Some states require special information, and this will be requested of you when a Bond or Lien Claim is printed. All Bond or Lien Claims should be accompanied by a complete statement of the account listing all charges, credits and balance due.

Form Types: Varies according to state, but usually the Bond or Lien Claim itself, a Stop Notice (if needed) and Exhibits A-D (if needed).

Procedures: In the case of private works, you are generally filing a lien against the real property involved, and sometimes against moneys held in trust by a bank or a bond provided by a surety. In the case of public works, your lien is generally against funds held in trust by the public agency who ordered the work, or against a surety bond provided by the contractors as required by the state.

All private work Mechanic's Liens must be filed with the county recorder's office in the county in the state where the project work was performed. This will place an immediate, although temporary, lien against the real property while you move to perfect it. In states where public works claims are allowed, all claims must be filed with the public agency ordering the work, where your funds claimed will be reserved pending perfection of your lien.

In some states, Stop Notices are allowed that direct the owners, general contractors, private works lenders or public funding agencies to stop further payments to your contractor customer until your bill is paid. In any case, Lien Writer® prints all necessary or optional forms for the initial filing of a lien claim.

Always send required bond or lien claim copies to the required parties by certified or registered mail, or use personal service. Always obtain an attested copy (that is, stamped by the filing office) from the County Recorder's Office. (or Clerk of the Court, Registry of Deeds, etc.) as proof of your filing.

Most states limit the viability of your lien without perfection', that is, filing a suit to enforce your lien claim. It is our opinion that this is an action for your attorney to handle. Without this suit filing, most liens will become automatically ineffective within 2 months to 2years, depending on the state. Once perfected, you will obtain a permanent lien against the project real property, in the case of a private work, or payment of the reserved funds, in the case of a public work. If you file a lien, be prepared to enforce it.

Special Restriction, Private Works: A lien against real property may be limited to the contract amount. This means that the owners may be liable only for the full amount of the general contract, and if the owners have paid all or part of the contract before you filed your lien, the lien is only effective for any UNPAID portion of the contract.

The following states may limit your lien to the unpaid portion of the contract:

**Alabama Arkansas Connecticut


District of Columbia








Michigan Minnesota Mississippi


New York

New Hampshire

North Carolina



South Carolina







West Virginia

In these states it is vital that you file your claim forms as soon as possible to protect your rights. **Alabama allows a full balance lien if 1) the owner and construction lender are served with a preliminary notice prior to furnishing; or 2) if you are dealing directly with the owner for your furnishing. *Texas limits a lien to 10% of the general contract if the owners have paid the contractors before receiving the notice of lien.

The following states may allow a lien for the full amount owed to you whether or not the owner has made payments:

Alaska Arizona California

Colorado Hawaii Idaho

Indiana Kansas Louisiana

Maryland Missouri Montana

Nevada New Jersey New Mexico

North Dakota Oregon Pennsylvania

Rhode Island South Dakota Wisconsin


The following states do not allow liens by material suppliers on private works:


Special Restrictions, Public Works: Not all states allow liens on public funds, although there may be other avenues for liening bonds required on public projects. The following states do not allow liening of public works funds, although there may be a surety bond to lien (contact the public agency ordering the work):

Kentucky West Virginia

If you have any questions regarding these laws, contact your attorney immediately.

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