Contractors – Construction Liens – Virginia
Note: This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive discussion of Virginia’s construction or mechanic’s lien laws, but does include basic provisions.
What is a construction or mechanic’s lien?
Every State permits a person who supplies labor or materials for a construction project to claim a lien against the improved property. While some states differ in their definition of improvements and some states limit lien claims to buildings or structures, most permit the filing of a document with the local court that puts parties interested in the property on notice that the party asserting the lien has a claim. States differ widely in the method and time within which a party may act on their lien. Also varying widely are the requirements of written notices between property owners, contractors, subcontractors and laborers, and in some cases lending institutions. As a general rule, these statutes serve to prevent unpleasant surprises by compelling parties who wish to assert their legal rights to put all parties who might be interested in the property on notice of a claim or the possibility of a claim. This by no means constitutes a complete discussion of construction lien law and should not be interpreted as such. Parties seeking to know more about construction laws in their State should always consult their State statutes directly.
Who can claim a lien in this State?
All persons performing labor or furnishing materials of the value of fifty dollars or more, for the construction, removal, repair or improvement of any building or structure permanently annexed to the freehold, and all persons performing any labor or furnishing materials of like value for the construction of any railroad, shall have a lien, if perfected as hereinafter provided, upon such building or structure, and so much land therewith as shall be necessary for the convenient use and enjoyment thereof, and upon such railroad and franchises for the work done and materials furnished.
How long does a party have to claim a lien?
A general contractor, or any other lien claimant under §§ 43-7 and 43-9, in order to perfect the lien given by § 43-3, provided such lien has not been barred by § 43-4.01 C, shall file a memorandum of lien at any time after the work is commenced or material furnished, but not later than ninety days from the last day of the month in which he last performs labor or furnishes material, and in no event later than ninety days from the time such building, structure, or railroad is completed, or the work thereon otherwise terminated.
How long is a lien good for?
No suit to enforce any lien perfected under §§ 43-4, 43-5 and 43-7 to 43-10 shall be brought after six months from the time when the memorandum of lien was recorded or after sixty days from the time the building, structure or railroad was completed or the work thereon otherwise terminated, whichever time shall last occur; provided, however, that the filing of a petition to enforce any such lien in any suit wherein such petition may be properly filed shall be regarded as the institution of a suit under this section; and, provided further, that nothing herein shall extend the time within which such lien may be perfected.
Does this State require a notice prior to starting work, or after work has been completed?
No. Virginia does not require a Notice of Commencement or a Notice of Completion as in some other States.
Does this State permit a person with an interest in property to deny responsibility for improvements?
No. Virginia law does not have a provision that allows a property owner to deny responsibility for improvements to property.
Is a notice attesting to the satisfaction of a lien provided for or required?
While Virginia has no specific provision for the Release of a mechanic’s lien, please see form VA-06-09 and VA-07-09 for standard forms used to release a lien.
Does this State permit the use of a bond to release a lien?
Virginia law does not contain a specific provision providing for the release of a line through use of a bond.