What are the time limits for filing a construction lien?

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Explore:  Liens

Contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers all need to know how long they have to register their construction lien(s).

The time limits to register a construction lien under the Ontario Construction Lien Act are as follows:

For a Contractor:

The construction lien must be filed within 45 days after the earlier of either:

a. the publication of the Certificate of Substantial Performance; or

b. completion or abandonment of the contract.

For a Sub-Contractor or Supplier:

The construction lien must be filed within 45 days after the earlier of either:

a. the publication of the Certificate of Substantial Performance; or

b. the date on which the sub-contractor or supplier last supplied services and materials or the date the subcontract is certified to be completed.

In determining the last date of supply of services, you have to look at the last date on which there was work performed upon or in respect of the improvement. You do not look at attendances to fix deficiencies in the sub-contractor’s or supplier’s own work

In order to determine if a Certificate of Substantial Performance has been published, you can go to the website for Daily Commercial News and Construction Record. Under the heading “CSPs”, you can search to determine if a Certificate of Substantial Performance has been published.

You should not wait until the last day to contact a lawyer to file a construction lien. You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible in order to allow time for the preparation of the necessary paperwork to file the construction lien. In addition, the lawyer may require time to determine the proper description of the property (which is required to register the lien). If the property does not yet have a municipal address or the property is not in the land titles system, it can take some time to complete the manual searches at the registry office and inquiries to determine the description of the property necessary for registration.

Once the construction lien is filed, in order to maintain the construction lien against the property, the lien claimant must start a lawsuit in Ontario and register a Certificate of Action against title to the property within 45 days after the date that was the last possible date to register a lien on the property. If the lawsuit is not commenced and the Certificate of Action is not registered on the property within this time limit, the construction lien may be removed from title to the property and the lien claimant will lose the benefit of the lien.