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The following article will cover the following regarding mechanics liens in Iowa:

  • What a mechanic’s lien is
  • How mechanic’s liens are created
  • How to find out if there is a mechanic’s lien on your property
  • How long mechanic’s liens last
  • What you should do if there is a mechanic’s lien on your property
  • What to do if you don’t believe you owe money to the lien holder
  • Other options for refuting liens
  • How liens are enforced

The following article will cover the following regarding mechanics liens in Iowa:

  • What a mechanic’s lien is
  • How mechanic’s liens are created
  • How to find out if there is a mechanic’s lien on your property
  • How long mechanic’s liens last
  • What you should do if there is a mechanic’s lien on your property
  • What to do if you don’t believe you owe money to the lien holder
  • Other options for refuting liens
  • How liens are enforced

What is a mechanic’s lien?

If you make an agreement with someone to do work on your property and you do not pay them, that person can put a lien on your property. Liens are claims against your property that allow the person claiming the lien to sell your property to cover the money they are owed or allow the person to get paid from the proceeds of the sale of your property.  

How are liens created?

Any person who provides material or labor for a building, land improvement or vehicle repair may have a lien to secure payment for the work performed. Liens are not automatic. The person who did the work to the property has to file a mechanic’s lien notice and file the lien in the registry with the Iowa Secretary of State.  

In order to place a lien on the property, the person will first file with the Iowa Secretary of State. The filing will include a statement of account (a bill/invoice showing the work done and the cost), the date the services were rendered, a legal description of the property, the name and address of the property owner and the tax identification number. This must be filed within 2 years and 90 days of the last date that the work was performed or the material was finished.

How do you find out if there was a lien on your property?

By law, you will receive notice in the mail from the State of Iowa or you will be served personally with the notice. If the contractor files the lien more than 90 days after the date in which the last of the material was delivered or the labor was performed, you will have to be personally served with notice of the lien. You want to pay attention too to anything the State of Iowa sends regarding the lien.  

How long does the lien last?

Liens in Iowa last for 2 years and 90 days. Any action to enforce the lien will need to be brought within 2 years from the expiration of 90 days after the date on which the last of the material was furnished or the labor was performed.

What do you do if there is a lien on your property?

The first and easiest option is to satisfy the lien by paying what money is owed to the person who did work on your property. It’s important here to keep a record of the payment you made. From there, you will make a written demand that the person who did the work acknowledge satisfaction of the lien to the registry. If it has been 30 days since the written demand and the contractor hasn’t let the state know the lien has been satisfied, you can file with the registry a copy of the demand for satisfaction and proof of service.  

What if I do not believe I owe money to the person with the lien?

If you don’t agree with the lien, you can challenge the lien in court. If the lien is under $6,500, you will have to bring the challenge in small claims court. If it’s over $6,500, it will be in the district court for the county you are in. If you are challenging the lien, you can bring a counterclaim if you believe the person who filed the lien against you owes you any damages.  

Other options for refuting liens

Another way in which you can get the lien taken off the property is to make a demand to bring suit. This will request the lien holder enforce their lien. If they do not bring an action to enforce the lien within 30 days following that demand, then they will forfeit their lien. You will then be able to post with the State of Iowa a copy of the demand and proof of service. This will put everyone on notice of the cancellation of the lien.

Enforcement of liens

The person who holds the lien can file in court to enforce the lien. The court can decide that the property in question will be sold to pay the money owed. This doesn’t happen often, especially if the money owed is relatively small compared to the value of the property, but it is possible. If you don’t believe the person is owed that much money, either because they didn’t do the work properly or didn’t complete the work, you can defend the claim in court, objecting to the amount of money the person claims they are owed.  

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