Alaska Mechanic’s Lien–How to file
Like most other states, there are highly technical requirements for filing an Alaska mechanic’s lien. This is because they are creatures of statute and are strictly construed. Here are some of the prerequisites.
Fortunately, contractors and material/equipment suppliers are not required to give a Pre-Lien Notice before filing the actual Mechanic’s Lien. On the other hand, it is still recommended that such Pre-Lien Notices be sent out because they make enforcement of the lien much easier.
The recording in the clerk’s office of an Alaska mechanic’s lien. Must be within 120 days after the contractor or material supplier last furnishes labor or materials to the job site. However, the owner can shorten up this period to 15 days simply by recording a Notice of Completion. The problem is that the lien claimant will not typically know if a Notice of Completion is filed or not. However, if a Pre-Lien Notice is sent out, it is easier to know. This is because the Notice of Completion has been recorded and that the person only has 15 days.
But there is an even more important reason to serve this Notice. Alaska is unusual in requiring affirmative proof that the owner not only knew, but consented to the furnishing of labor, materials, or equipment by the lien claimant. As to a subcontractor in most states, this consent is presumed if you enter into a contract with the general contractor who in turn has direct privity with the owner. As a matter of law, the general contractor is considered the authorized agent of the owner. Obviously, the owner is consenting to the work vis-à-vis the general contractor and the subcontractor’s work is subsumed under the contract between the general and the owner. But these presumptions do not apply in Alaska. The subcontractor has the burden of proof to show the owner knew and consented to the work. And this can be rather difficult if the case goes to trial.
However, under Alaska statutes 34.35.064, if the pre-lien notice is served, the burden of proof is shifted so that the owner now has to prove that he or she did not know or consent to the work. This would especially be difficult to the owner if they have received and signed the certified mail containing the pre-lien notice. This makes it much easier for the lien claimant at trial.
Name of Notice: Notice of Right to Lien.
Who Must Use
this Notice: All persons conferring labor or materials to the site, including contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers, and the like will benefit by serving this Notice. Note that many states allow the Notice only for subcontractors and material suppliers and not the general contractor. Alaska allows a general contractor to file this Notice as well, and this is recommended.
When: Serve the Notice before any labor, materials, equipment, or
services are furnished.
How to Serve: Certified mail with return receipt requested. Serve both the owner and the general contractor. Although you can also record the notice, such recordation is not required.
It is also important to serve both pre-lien notices and mechanic’s liens as early as possible. There is nothing worse than having a mechanic’s lien claim in Alaska after the money is dried up in the hands of the owner.