The effective date for the new Iowa Construction Registry and for filing mechanics' liens with the Iowa Secretary of State is January 1, 2013.
 

 







Mechanics' Liens and the State Construction Registry: Questions and Answers

The Frequently Asked Questions piece that follows is reproduced, with permission, from the original written by Brian W. Peters of the Kintzinger Law Firm, Dubuque, Iowa.
Copyright (c) 2012 by Brian W. Peters, All rights reserved.

This document gives general answers to questions that are frequently asked by our clients. It is intended for clients of this office, and is not intended as a substitute for our advice in individual cases. You also should understand that the law regarding reaffirmation agreements changes from time to time; we believe the information below was accurate when written, but we cannot guarantee that it will remain correct over time. We do hope that it will be a useful background, and a way to think about questions to ask us directly.

  • Why waste my time? Just show me the act.
  • When is the new system in effect?
  • What happens with construction still happening on that date?
  • I'm busy, just give me the headlines?
  • Where will I go to file?
  • Does the Construction Registry apply to commercial jobs?
  • Is there a new notice to owners on residential construction?
  • If the general contractor doesn't file with the Construction Registry, can a subcontractor still file?
  • If a general contractor files a notice of commencement within 10 days of starting, does it cover all the work before it was filed?


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    Q. Why waste my time? Just show me the act.

    A. Certainly. A pdf format document of the act as reproduced in the preliminary Iowa Acts document is reproduced here

    Q. When is the new system in effect?

    A. January 1, 2013. 

    Q. What happens with construction still happening on that date?

    A. If a mechanics' lien is on file before January 1, 2013, it remains on file with the Clerk of District Court. Any filings after that are made with the Iowa Secretary of State. The construction registry applies only to material furnished or labor performed after January 1, 2013. Presumably if a job is in progress on January 1, 2013 it should be registered with the Iowa Secretary of State's website on January 1, 2013 (or at least within 10 days of that date) so that a mechanics' lien for activities and materials after that date can be filed if necessary. 

    Q. I'm busy, just give me the headlines?

    A. All mechanics' lien filings on or after January 1, 2013 will be on the Secretary of State, rather than with the Clerk of District Court. For all residential construction, a notice must be filed within 10 days of starting the job by the contractor, and that notice must be filed with the Iowa Secretary of State. Contractors not filing the notice can't get a mechanics' lien. A subcontractor on residential construction must also post a preliminary notice to be entitled to a mechanics' lien. 

    Q. Where will I go to file?

    A. The Iowa Secretary of State expects to allow filing both on paper and through their website. Not surprisingly, the paper version will be slower and more expensive. The website will be at www.sos.iowa.gov/mnlr, and will probably link from the "Online Filing" tab on the home page of the Secretary of State's website once it is ready. 

    Q. Does the Construction Registry apply to commercial jobs?

    A. No. The construction registry applies only to residential construction, defined as, "construction on single-family or two-family dwellings occupied or used, or intended to be occupied or used, primarily for residential purposes." 

    Q. Is there a new notice to owners on residential construction?

    A. Yes. The Iowa Code will now require the following text in boldface type not less than 10 points in size, in the written contract or separately given in writing by a general contractor:

    Persons or companies furnishing labor or materials for the improvement of real property may enforce a lien upon the improved property if they are not paid for their contributions, even if the parties have no direct contractual relationship with the owner. The mechanics' notice and lien registry (www.sos.iowa.gov/mnlr or 1-888-767-8683) provides a listing of all persons or companies furnishing labor or materials who have posted a lien or who may post a lien upon the improved property.
     

    Q. If the general contractor doesn't file with the Construction Registry, can a subcontractor still file their preliminary notice?

    A. Yes. If the general contractor doesn't file within 10 days of the commencement of work, any subcontractor can file the notice of commencement of work, then file the preliminary notice for the subcontractor. 

    Q. If a general contractor files a notice of commencement within 10 days of starting, does it cover all the work before it was filed?

    A. No. It just covers the work from the date of filing forward. "A notice of commencement of work is effective only as to any labor, service, equipment, or material furnished to the property subsequent to the posting of the notice of commencement of work." To be safe, a general contractor should file the notice of commencement of work before starting the work. 

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