On May 5th 2015, Members’ Bill M 216 received first reading in the BC Legislative Assembly. The proposed Builders Lien Notice to Owners Act would amend the Builders Lien Act to impose two new preconditions on a party’s right to file a claim of lien: (1) service of a detailed written notice on the land owner of the lien claimant’s intention to file a claim of lien, and (2) proof that the owner has been served.
The explanatory note accompanying the Members’ Bill suggests that the proposed amendment would introduce a standard of procedural fairness to the lien filing process, and address the fact that land owners may not be aware of a claim of lien on title for some time after a lien has been registered.
If passed, the proposed amendment would be unique. While lien statutes in some provinces require, or facilitate, notice after a lien has been registered, we are not aware of any provincial statutory scheme that currently contemplates notice of an intention to file a claim of lien.
Notice of an intention to file a lien may be desirable, and could encourage the resolution of a construction dispute in its early stages. Lien claimants in commercial construction contexts often provide notice as a matter of course. At the same time, the proposed amendment could significantly impair lien rights. Lien claimants would presumably lose their lien rights in circumstances where the 45 day limitation period expired before they were able to serve a land owner with their detailed notice and establish proof of such service for the Land Title Office. For that reason, among others, Bill M 216 will likely lead to significant controversy and debate if it proceeds to second reading.
Click here to see the full text of the proposed amendment.