Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter I. General.


§ 40–301.01. Mechanic’s lien.

Every building erected, improved, added to, or repaired at the direction of the owner, or the owner’s authorized agent, and the land on which the same is erected, intended to be used in connection therewith, or necessary to the use and enjoyment thereof, to the extent of the right, title, and interest, at that time existing, of the owner, shall be subject to a lien in favor of the contractor who contracted with the owner, in the amount of the contract price or, in the absence of an express contract, the reasonable value of the project; provided, that to enforce the lien, the contractor claiming the lien shall record in the land records a notice of intent and comply with the other procedures prescribed in this chapter.


(Mar. 3, 1901, 31 Stat. 1384, ch. 854, § 1237; Oct. 20, 2005, D.C. Law 16-31, § 2(b), 52 DCR 7195.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 38-101.

1973 Ed., § 38-101.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 40-303.01, § 42-1902.02, § 42-2025, and § 42-2303.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 16-31 rewrote section, which had read as follows: “Every building erected, improved, added to, or repaired by the owner or his agent, and the lot of ground on which the same is erected, being all the ground used or intended to be used in connection therewith, or necessary to the use and enjoyment thereof, to the extent of the right, title, and interest, at that time existing, of such owner, whether owner in fee or of a less estate, or lessee for a term of years, or vendee in possession under a contract of sale, shall be subject to a lien in favor of the contractor with such owner or his duly authorized agent for the contract price agreed upon between them, or, in the absence of an express contract, for the reasonable value of the work and materials furnished for and about the erection, construction, improvement, or repair of or addition to such building, or the placing of any engine, machinery, or other thing therein or in connection therewith so as to become a fixture, though capable of being detached; provided, that the person claiming the lien shall file the notice herein prescribed.”

Cross References

Condominiums, see § 40-1902.02.

Horizontal property regimes, see § 42-2025.

Payment as defense to assertion of lien, see § 47-2883.03.


§ 40–301.02. Notice.

(a)(1) A contractor desiring to enforce the lien shall record in the land records a notice of intent that identifies the property subject to the lien and states the amount due or to become due to the contractor. The notice of intent shall be recorded during the construction or within 90 days after the earlier of the completion or termination of the project. If the notice of intent is not recorded in the land records during the construction or within 90 days after the earlier of the completion or termination of the project, the contractor’s lien shall terminate upon the expiration of the 90-day period. A notice of intent that does not comply with subsection (b) of this section shall be void.

(2) Any contractor who records timely a notice of intent in accordance with subsection (a)(1) of this section, shall send to the owner, by certified mail to the current address (or if not available in the local public records, the last known address) of the owner, a copy of the notice of intent within 5 business days after the date of its recordation in the land records. If the certified mail is returned to the contractor unclaimed or undelivered, the contractor shall post a copy of the recorded notice of intent at or on the affected real property in a location generally visible from some entry point to the real property.

(b) The notice of intent shall include the following:

(1) The name and address of the contractor or the contractor’s registered agent;

(2) The name and address of the owner or the owner’s registered agent;

(3) The name of the party against whose interest a lien is claimed and the amount claimed, less any credit for payments received up to and including the date of the notice of intent;

(4) A description of the work done, including the dates that work was commenced and completed;

(5) A description of the material furnished, including the dates that material was first and last delivered;

(6) A legal description and, to the extent available, a street address of the real property;

(7)(A) To the extent available under applicable law, if the contractor is an entity organized under the laws of the District of Columbia or is doing business in the District of Columbia within the meaning of applicable District law:

(i) A copy of the contractor’s current license to do business in the District issued by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs; and

(ii) A certificate of good standing from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs issued within 180 days prior to the date of the filing of the notice of intent; or

(B) To the extent available under applicable law, if the contractor is an individual or an entity organized under laws other than those of the District of Columbia, and is not doing business in the District of Columbia within the meaning of applicable District laws but is required to be licensed by a governmental entity:

(i) A copy of the contractor’s current license to do business issued by the government of the other jurisdiction; and

(ii) A certificate evidencing the contractor’s good standing in its place of business or state of incorporation issued by the other jurisdiction;

(8) If the project is provided under a home improvement contract, a copy of the home improvement contract; and

(9)(A) A sworn, notarized statement affirming under penalty of perjury and upon personal knowledge that:

(i) The contents of the notice of intent are true and correct to the best of the contractor’s information and belief; and

(ii) The contractor has a right to recover the amount claimed.

(B) If a notice of intent is executed by an authorized representative or counsel of the contractor, he or she shall attach evidence of his or her authority to execute the notice of intent on behalf the contractor and shall affirm that the notice of intent is true and correct to the best of the affiant’s knowledge and belief.


(Mar. 3, 1901, 31 Stat. 1384, ch. 854, § 1238; June 25, 1936, 49 Stat. 1921, ch. 804; June 25, 1948, 62 Stat. 991, ch. 646, § 32(b); May 24, 1949, 63 Stat. 107, ch. 139, § 127; July 5, 1966, 80 Stat. 265, Pub. L. 89-493, § 15(a), (b); Mar. 19, 2002, D.C. Law 14-84, § 2(a), 49 DRC 198; Oct. 20, 2005, D.C. Law 16-31, § 2(c), 52 DCR 7195; June 5, 2012, D.C. Law 19-138, § 2(a), 59 DCR 2553.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 38-102.

1973 Ed., § 38-102.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 14-84 rewrote the section, which had read:

“Any such contractor wishing to avail himself of the provision aforesaid, whether his claim be due or not, shall file in the Office of the Recorder of Deeds of the District of Columbia during the construction or within 3 months after the completion of such building, improvement, repairs, or addition, or the placing therein or in connection therewith of any engine, machinery, or other thing so as to become a fixture, a notice of his intention to hold a lien on the property hereby declared liable to such lien for the amount due or to become due to him, specifically setting forth the amount claimed, the name of the party against whose interest a lien is claimed, and a description of the property to be charged, and the said Recorder of Deeds shall file said notice and record the same in a book to be kept for the purpose.”

D.C. Law 16-31 rewrote the section.

D.C. Law 19-138, in subsec. (a)(1), substituted “during the construction or within 90 days” for “within 90 days”.


§ 40–301.03. Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the term:

(1) “Home improvement” means the repair, remodeling, alteration, conversion, or modernization of, or addition to, residential real property.

(2) “Home improvement contract” means any written agreement, in a form that has been approved by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, entered into between the same contractor and the same homeowner within any 12-month period for home improvement for a specific price. For the purposes of this section, the contract price for a home improvement contract shall be the contract price for all contracts during any 12-month period with respect to a home improvement.

(3) “Land records” means the property records maintained by the Office of the Recorder of Deeds of the District of Columbia.

(4) “Notice amount” means a written notice of amounts due to a contractor, subcontractor, materialman, or supplier for a project.

(5) “Notice of intent” means a notice of intention to enforce a lien against the owner’s property for a project.

(6) “Owner” means an owner either in fee simple or a lesser estate, a lessee, or a prospective purchaser in possession under a contract of sale authorized to contract for a project.

(7) “Project” means any work or materials provided by a contractor for the erection, construction, improvement, repair of, or addition to any real property in the District of Columbia at the direction of an owner, or an owner’s authorized agent, or the placing of any engine, machinery, or other thing therein or in connection therewith so as to become a fixture, though capable of being detached.


(Mar. 3, 1901, 31 Stat. 1384, ch. 854, § 1238a; as added Oct. 20, 2005, D.C. Law 16-31, § 2(a), 52 DCR 7195; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-353, § 101, 56 DCR 1117.)

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 17-353 validated a previously made technical correction in the section designation.