Filing a memorandum of mechanic’s lien is deceptively simple. The whole document is usually no more than a page or two and seems like a simple fill in the blank form. Simple, right? Not really. The Virginia statutes governing the manner in which one seeks the protection of a mechanic’s lien have been the source of much litigation. Because a mechanic’s lien can be a powerful weapon in a claimant’s arsenal, courts have required (for the most part) strict adherence to the statutes that govern how one obtains and enforces a mechanic’s lien.
Beginning on July 1, 2013, a new requirement has been added. Virginia Code section 43-4 now requires the memorandum to contain the claimant’s license or certificate number issued by the Board of Contractors, if any, the date that the license or certificate was issued, and the date that such license or certificate expires.
The statute allows a little leeway to a claimant who attempts to comply with the new requirement but makes a mistake, where that claimant can be identified in the Board of Contractor’s records from the information in the memorandum of mechanic’s lien. However, a court is not likely to provide relief to a claimant who fails to include any of this newly required information.
Again, this new requirement may not appear to be a big deal, but, it could be. Courts routinely invalidate memoranda of mechanic’s liens for omitting certain required information, containing mistakes in the information provided, or failing to adhere to certain timing limitations in the statutory scheme.
The main take away is that filing a memorandum of mechanic’s lien poses many traps for the unwary. If you need to file a memorandum of mechanic’s lien, you should contact counsel experienced in this area.