My lien is filed... now what do i do?

OCTOBER 4, 2017

Once the claim of lien has been filed, the next step in the process is called "perfection of the lien." Perfection of the lien involves filing suit and recovering against the party with whom you have the contract and who owes you the money.

The lawsuit to recover on the claim against the contracting party must be filed within 365 days of the date the claim of lien was filed.  See O.C.G.A.  44-14-361(a)(3). Any agreement to extend this time period must include approval by the owner of the property on which the lien has been filed.  Absent agreement, including the owner, to extend the 365 day period, the 365 day period is absolute so that a contractor cannot dismiss its lawsuit to perfect the lien and refile it after the 365 day period has run. In other words, if you dismiss your lawsuit without prejudice, you must still refile it within the 365 day period or you will loose your lien perfection rights.

The 365 day period applies even if a lien discharge bond has been filed. Failure to file within the 365 day time period will discharge the surety on the bond given to discharge the lien.

In addition to the filing of the lawsuit to perfect the lien, within 30 days of filing this lawsuit, a notice of commencement of action must be filed in the superior court of the county where the property is located. The notice shall include: 1) the identity of the owner of the property against which the lien was filed; 2) reference to a deed or other recorded instrument in the chain of title of the property in question which identifies the owner; 3) the identity of the court or arbitration venue where the lien action is pending; 4) the style and case number of the lien action, if there is one; 5) the names of the parties to the lien action; 6) the date of filing of the lien action; and 7) the book and page number where the claim of lien is recorded. Once filed, the clerk of court will cross reference the notice of commencement on the recorded claim of lien.

If all of this seems too hard to remember, don't worry, the notice language on the bottom of the claim of lien can remind you. That language refers to the 365 day period to file the lien perfect lawsuit, plus the 30 day period to file the notice of commencement. That notice language states "This claim of lien expires and is void 395 days from the date of filing of the claim of lien if no notice of commencement of lien action is filed in that time period."