Do You Need a Legal Description in Order to File a Mechanic’s Lien?

 In Mechanic’s Lien Law Updates and News

The simple answer. By statute, in many but not all cases. As a recommended procedure, always. Without sounding like a typical attorney, let us explain in more detail.

First, there is never a requirement to include the legal description in a preliminary notice or notice of intent to lien. The only exception: If that notice is required to be recorded. An example would be Nevada in which one must record and serve within 15 days of the mechanic’s lien, such a notice of intent to lien. In other states, as the notice is not statutorily required and is only optional—there is no need for that legal description.

So we’re only talking about mechanic’s liens and other recordable documents. The best procedure is simply give us a call and we will look up the statute and give you a direct answer. But for now, here are the basic principles:

1. State statute not mentioning or requiring a legal description. Without exception, every state has a mechanic’s lien statute. But many make no mention of the legal description requirement. In that case, the only time you need it is if the local court or recorder, under their own initiative, requires it. That’s why it’s always a good idea to call that county office, get the exact address, precise filing fee, and ask if the legal description is required.

2. State statute requiring a legal description. Obviously, you would be required to comply.

In cases in which it is required, a common street address would not be sufficient: 1234 Main Street, Anytown, PA 55555.

But where the world do you get the legal description? At the beginning of a job where everyone loves each other and the information flows, you could ask the owner or general, but forget it at the end of the job. So try these companies (Or do a Google search under “Property information” or “Real estate records research”):

1. The best source for this information is a national title company which literally duplicates every record in the various county recorder’s offices. That’s why it costs so much to get title insurance because they have to maintain their plant with up-to-date records. This is the web site maintained by the First American Title. Absolutely the best information. They have a prepaid account of $300.00 were you can get 30 searches within one year period.

2. Not a title company and so their fees are much less, usually in the $10.00 range. But be careful, they’re not nearly as accurate.

3. $16.00 per legal description with a one time $50.00 setup fee.

4. Call the county assessor’s office.

5. Call the local county court or recorder’s office. This will either be the clerk of the court, register of deeds, or county recorder.

6. Give up and call us—(800) 995-9434.