Liens – Do’s and Don’t’s

Constructing Louisiana (LAGC) Winter 2002

The Public Works Act are properly classified as creating a need for judicial interpretation to fill in the gaps.

We submit the “do’s” and “don’t’s” which follow for the persons, firms and corporations included under both acts.

The title has been used because we so often hear complaints from clients that Louisiana’s laws relative to claims and privileges on public and private works are confusing. Maybe if we can draw the matters down to “do’s” and “don’t’s,” we can help in understanding.

The various time periods and other provisions of the Private Works Act do tend to read somewhat like the IRS Code. On the other hand, the relatively scant provisions contained in the Public Works Act are properly classified as creating a need for judicial interpretation to fill in the gaps.

We submit the “do’s” and “don’t’s” which follow for the persons, firms and corporations included under both acts.


Do timely record a notice of contract for any private work which exceeds $25,000. If you fail to do so, you will not be entitled to file a lien and assert a privilege against the owner’s property. A notice of contract must be signed by the owner and contractor; contain the legal property description of the immovable and names of the project; identify and give mailing addresses of the owner and contractor; state the price of the work and where payment is to be made; and generally describe the work to be done.

Don’t assume that all liens are valid. Many are untimely or not in the proper form. Others are invalid for failure to make preliminary notices. As a consequence, you are entitled to demand cancellation of an improperly or untimely filed lien. If the claimant fails to give you written authorization to cancel the lien with ten days of your demand, you may file suit to cancel the lien and seek recovery of damages and attorneys’ fees.


Do file your lien with the public body and in the mortgage records of the Parish where the public work is located within 45 days of recordation of acceptance.

Do give written notice via certified or registered mail to the contractor within 45 days of recordation of acceptance stating with substantial accuracy the amount claimed and the name of the party to whom the work was performed.

Do make amicable demand for payment on a public work on the contractor and surety at least thirty days before filing suit in order to claim 10 percent attorney’s fees.

Don’t overstate your claim on a public work. If you do, you will forfeit your entitlement to recover 10 percent attorneys’ fees and may subject yourself to liability for attorney’s fees.


Do deliver notice of nonpayment to the owner and contractor at least ten days before filing a lien on a private work. If you have not been paid by a subcontractor and you have not timely sent notice of nonpayment to the owner and contractor, you will lose your right to file a lien unless the notice of contract has not been recorded.

Do obtain proof of delivery to the work site. Proof of delivery is prima facie evidence (a fact presumed to be true unless disproved) that the materials became component parts of the immovable. If delivery is made at a location other than the work site, you have the burden of proving that the materials were consumed or incorporated at the work site.


Do deliver a copy of your written lease to the owner and contractor within ten days after your equipment is first placed at the work site.

Don’t overstate your claim. The lien is limited to rentals accruing during the time the equipment is located at the work site for use in the work. Equipment is deemed not located at the site for use in work after: substantial completion or abandonment; notice of substantial completion is recorded; the lessee has abandoned the equipment or use of the equipment is no longer necessary and you are so notified by the owner or contractor.


Don’t file a lien on a private work without a sufficient property description. A description which includes the lot and subdivision or square and township is sufficient. Naming the street or mailing address without more is not sufficient.

Do make a written request to the owner to give you notice of substantial completion of the work. If the owner fails to notify you within ten days of substantial completion of the work, the owner is liable to you for all costs and attorneys’ fees for the establishment and enforcement of a lien.

Don’t mail any notices, claims or demands by regular mail or federal express. All such notices, claims or demands should be made by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested.

Do call one of us if we have created more confusion or if you need help in a “do” or a “don’t.” We hope that you will not wait to find out that you did do a don’t or vice versa until it’s too late. We have omitted references to authorities but will supply such upon simple request.