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2013 Changes to The Virginia Mechanic’s Lien Law

Posted in Mechanic's Liens

With the arrival of July in the Commonwealth of Virginia laws passed by the General Assembly take effect. In a prior post we discussed a number of bills pending before the 2013 session of the Virginia General assembly of interest to Virginia contractors. Of those bills, HB 1913 passed both houses of the General Assembly and the Governor signed it into law.

Our friend and colleague, Chris Hill, recently discussed the changes enacted by HB 1913 in his blog.  HB 1913 added subsection D to Virginia Code § 43-3, which states:

D. A person who performs labor without a valid license or certificate issued by the Board for Contractors pursuant to Chapter 11 (§ 54.1-1100 et seq.) of Title 54.1, or without the proper class of license for the value of the work to be performed, when such a license or certificate is required by law for the labor performed shall not be entitled to a lien pursuant to this section.

Pursuant to new subsection D of Virginia Code 43-3, as of July 1, 2013, any contractor who does not posess a valid Virginia contractor license, or the proper class of license to perform the work at issue, may not assert a valid mechanic’s lien.

HB 1913 also modified Virginia Code § 43-4 to require that:

The memorandum [for mechanic's lien] shall also contain the claimant’s license or certificate number issued by the Board for Contractors pursuant to Chapter 11 (§ 54.1-1100 et seq.) of Title 54.1, if any, and the date such license or certificate was issued and the date such license or certificate expires.

This is a new requirement that will surely trip up the unwarry mechanic’s lien claimant. Thankfully, the General Assembly updated the statutory forms in Virginia Code §§ 43-5, 43-8 and 43-10 to include blanks for the newly required licensure information.  As we have previously stated, Virginia courts strictly apply the requirements of the Mechanic’s Lien Act to determine the validity of a perfected lien. it will be interesting to see how Virginia courts treat a lien memorandum filed after July 1, 2013 that does not include the requisite licensure information or that includes the wrong licensure information.