Must Certified Mailing of Mechanic’s Lien Notice be actually received?

By:  Saphronia Young – syoung@syounglaw.com

No.  The statutes requiring notice of the claim of lien to be sserved upon the Owner of the property does not specifically require receipt of the notice.  Rather, RCW 60.04.031(1)(a) and RCW 60.04.091 (the attorney fees provision) state that the lien claimant must mail the notices by certified mail.  At least one court has held that the mailing to the last known address satisfies the requirement, whether or not the Owner actually received the notice.  Baker v. Altmayer, 70 Wn.App. 188, 851 P.2d 1257 (1993).  More recent cases have upheld the rule, for other statutory situations, and have cited to the Baker opinion.  While the lien statutes have been amended since 1993, the language concerning the mailing requirement has not been revisited.  In a Labor & Industries case, the court specifically declined to impose an implied “restricted delivery” requirement upon the Department, and cited to Baker with approval.  The certified mailing requirement is reasonably calculated to ensure that lien claimants will make the effort to comply, and that the Department would make reasonable efforts to comply with mailing materials to injured workers.  See, Duskin v. Carlson, 136 Wn.2d 550 (1998) and Washington Cedar & Supply Co. v. State, 137 Wn.App. 592, 154 P.3d 287 (2007) (concerning notice of a safety violation citation).

Our office advises lien claimants to send the Notices to every possible known address, by certified mail.  One may check the tax assessor, the recorder of deeds, and for corporate owners, the Secretary of State’s website to send notice to the registered agent of the corporation.  That site is:  http://www.secstate.wa.gov.  One may also check with the Department of Revenue, athttp://www.dor.wa.gov, for the proper addresses of non-corporate businesses  (sole proprietors, for example).

This summary is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult an attorney in regard to your particular situation.