Enforcing Construction Liens in Arkansas

Unfortunately, Arkansas contractors are frequently faced with situations of non-payment for construction work. A construction lien can be a powerful tool to secure the funds you're owed, but navigating the enforcement process is complex. Contractors desiring to implement liens for unpaid invoices must strictly adhere to statutory requirements, otherwise the lien can be set aside.

This article contains a high-level explanation of the key steps to enforcing a construction lien in Arkansas and how to protect your right to payment. Contact our litigation attorneys featured on this page if we can assist your company with collections matter.

Understanding Construction Liens in Arkansas

A construction lien (also referred to as a materialman's lien) allows unpaid contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers to place a legal claim on real estate. Arkansas statutes permit every contractor, or material supplier, who supply labor, services, material, fixtures, engines, boilers, or machinery in the construction or repair of real estate to claim a lien against the improvement and up to one (1) acre of land upon which the improvement is situated. These liens are a powerful tool as they can prevent the owner from selling or refinancing the property without satisfying the outstanding debt.

Steps to Enforcing a Construction Lien in Arkansas

Notice Requirements:

  • For residential projects, a statutory form of notice found at A.C.A. § 18-44-115(a) must be provided to the real estate owner before work begins.
  • For both residential and commercial projects, within 75 days after the labor is supplied or materials furnished, a subcontractor or material supplier must provide notice of non-payment to the real estate owner. The method of delivery and form of this notice is prescribed by statute and must be strictly followed. The notice must contain a general description of the labor, service, or materials furnished, the amount due and unpaid, the name and address of the person furnishing the labor, service, or materials, the name of the person who contracted for purchase of the labor, service, or materials, and a description of the job site sufficient for identification. The notice must also contain certain language found at A.C.A. § 18-44-115(b).

Filing the Lien:

  • The lien must be filed within 120 days from the last date that labor or materials was furnished.
  • With some exceptions, the property owner must be given an additional notice of intent to file the lien at least 10 days prior to filing.
  • The lien must be filed with the circuit clerk where the applicable real estate is located.
  • The form and content of the lien is prescribed by statute and must be strictly adhered to. Failure to adhere to these formalities may result in the lien being unenforceable. Generally, the lien document should detail the amount owed, contain a proper description of the property subject to the lien, and contain an affidavit verifying that proper notice has been given to the property owner.
  • Within 10 days of filing, the claimant must send a notice of the lien to the property owner.

Enforcing the Lien:

  • To enforce the lien and collect payment, you must file a lawsuit to foreclose on the property within 15 months of filing the lien.
  • Generally, mechanics liens have priority over other liens except for certain tax liens. However, the order in which liens are filed can impact priority.

Compliance with Arkansas construction lien laws can be difficult for any contractor. Any failure adhering to the rules described above can result in an unenforceable lien. Our attorneys experienced in Arkansas construction law can guide you through the process, ensuring you meet deadlines and file proper documentation. Contact us today if we can be of assistance.

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