Changes to Wyoming's Contractor and Materialman Lien Law

Authoring Attorney: Julie Stomper
Feb 15, 2011

Attorney Julie Stomper offers some quick insight into impending changes in Wyoming's law related to contractors and materialmen liens in this Beard St. Clair Gaffney PA Legal Update.

Upcoming Changes to Wyoming's Contractor and Materialman Lien Law

Many contractors subcontractors, suppliers or other professionals working in Wyoming have learned the hard way about the unique pitfalls of the Wyoming lien statutes…and now the rules are changing.  Despite these changes, one thing remains the same, getting liens “right” is a highly technical endeavor that requires paying close attention to deadlines, language and format required by statute. Below are just some of the changes that will go into effect on July 1, 2011.

Pre-lien notice requirements

Under both the old law and the new law, contractors, subcontractors and materialmen must provide notice to the property owner (and the authorized agent where applicable) of both the right to lien and the intent to file a lien.  However, there are several important changes.

Notice of the right to lien

Contractors will now be required to provide the owner with written notice of his right to lien the property in the event of non-payment prior to receiving any payment, including advances.  

Materialmen and subcontractors must provide written notice to the owner within 30 days after providing materials or services to the project. They must also provide a copy of the notice to the contractor. The various statutory loopholes that many subcontractors and materialmen used to rely on to relieve them of the duty to notify have been repealed.

The consequences of missing this notice requirement remain harsh.  Failure to provide notice within the specified time frames “shall bar the right of a contractor, subcontractor or materialman to assert a lien.”

Notice of intent to file a lien

The revised Act extends the period of time that a lien claimant must wait to file a lien after mailing the notice of intent. 

Lien claimants will also be required to follow a specific format and include information beyond that required by the old statute.

Filing the lien statement

The revised Act provides an additional 30 days to file lien statements. A contractor will be required to file his lien statement within 150 days and a subcontractor or materialman must file his lien within 120 days of the earlier of (a) the last day work was performed or materials were furnished under contract or (b) the date of substantial completion of the project on which work was performed or materials were furnished under contract.  The revised Act specifies when the clock begins to run depending for the different classes of lien claimants.  

Foreclosing on the lien 

The time provided to foreclose on the lien remains unchanged, 180 days after the filing of the lien statement. 

New protection for property owners

Property owners are now empowered to record a notice of substantial completion.  This notice creates the rebuttable presumption of the date from which the period for filing a lien will begin to run.  In order to be valid, it by must include specific language and copies must be sent to all contractors, subcontractors and materialmen who have provided a preliminary notice within five days of recording the notice of substantial completion.

New requirement for contractors 

Contractors are now required to provide their subcontractors and materialmen with specific information regarding the property owner and the real property where the project is located.

Attorney fees now available by statute

The new code will allow for lien claimants to recover their attorney costs and fees in foreclosing on the lien.  This is a significant change.  In the past, if the lien claimant did not have the foresight to include an attorney fee provision in the written contract, they were forced to absorb the cost of enforcing their lien.

Ensure your right to payment

Ben Franklin is often quoted as saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”   This is particularly true when it comes to protecting your business.  Whether you are a contractor, subcontractor, materialman, or other professional proving services to construction projects, protecting your right to payment starts with nailing down the best contract and meeting the statutory requirements before picking up your hammer (or other tool of the trade).