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Public Act 101-0296


 

Public Act 0296 101ST GENERAL ASSEMBLY

  
  
  

 


 
Public Act 101-0296
 
SB0062 EnrolledLRB101 04056 AWJ 49064 b

    AN ACT concerning local government.
 
    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
represented in the General Assembly:
 
    Section 5. The Counties Code is amended by changing Section
3-5010.8 as follows:
 
    (55 ILCS 5/3-5010.8)
    (This Section may contain text from a Public Act with a
delayed effective date)
    (Section scheduled to be repealed on January 1, 2022)
    Sec. 3-5010.8. Mechanics lien demand and referral pilot
program.
    (a) Legislative findings. The General Assembly finds that
expired mechanics liens on residential property, which cloud
title to property, are a rapidly growing problem throughout the
State. In order to address the increase in expired mechanics
liens and, more specifically, those that have not been released
by the lienholder, a recorder may establish a process to demand
and refer mechanics liens that have been recorded but not
litigated or released in accordance with the Mechanics Lien Act
to an administrative law judge for resolution or demand that
the lienholder commence suit or forfeit the lien.
    (b) Definitions. As used in this Section:
    "Demand to Commence Suit" means the written demand
specified in Section 34 of the Mechanics Lien Act.
    "Mechanics lien" and "lien" are used interchangeably in
this Section.
    "Notice of Expired Mechanics Lien" means the notice a
recorder gives to a property owner under subsection (d)
informing the property owner of an expired lien.
    "Notice of Referral" means the document referring a
mechanics lien to a county's code hearing unit.
    "Recording" and "filing" are used interchangeably in this
Section.
    "Referral" or "refer" means a recorder's referral of a
mechanics lien to a county's code hearing unit to obtain a
determination as to whether a recorded mechanics lien is valid.
    "Residential property" means real property improved with
not less than one nor more than 4 residential dwelling units; a
residential condominium unit, including, but not limited to,
the common elements allocated to the exclusive use of the
condominium unit that form an integral part of the condominium
unit and any parking unit or units specified by the declaration
to be allocated to a specific residential condominium unit; or
a single tract of agriculture real estate consisting of 40
acres or less that is improved with a single-family residence.
If a declaration of condominium ownership provides for
individually owned and transferable parking units,
"residential property" does not include the parking unit of a
specified residential condominium unit unless the parking unit
is included in the legal description of the property against
which the mechanics lien is recorded.
    (c) Establishment of a mechanics lien demand and referral
process. After a public hearing, a recorder in a county with a
code hearing unit may adopt rules establishing a mechanics lien
demand and referral process for residential property. A
recorder shall provide public notice 90 days before the public
hearing. The notice shall include a statement of the recorder's
intent to create a mechanics lien demand and referral process
and shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in
the county and, if feasible, be posted on the recorder's
website and at the recorder's office or offices.
    (d) Notice of Expired Lien. If a recorder determines, after
review by legal staff or counsel, that a mechanics lien
recorded in the grantor's index or the grantee's index is an
expired lien, the recorder shall serve a Notice of Expired Lien
by certified mail to the last known address of the owner. The
owner or legal representative of the owner of the residential
property shall confirm in writing his or her belief that the
lien is not involved in pending litigation and, if there is no
pending litigation, as verified and confirmed by county court
records, the owner may request that the recorder proceed with a
referral or serve a Demand to Commence Suit.
    For the purposes of this Section, a recorder shall
determine if a lien is an expired lien. A lien is expired if
the lien is unenforced (if a suit to enforce the lien has not
been commenced by the lienholder or a counterclaim has not been
filed by the lienholder (within 2 years after the completion
date of the contract as specified in the recorded mechanics
lien. The 2-year period shall be increased to the extent that
an automatic stay under Section 362(a) of the United States
Bankruptcy Code stays a suit or counterclaim to foreclose the
lien. If a work , the completion of extra or additional work, or
furnishing of extra or additional material under Section 9 of
the Mechanics Lien Act; if a completion date is not specified
in the recorded lien, then the work completion date is shall be
deemed the date of recording of the mechanics lien) and if an
automatic stay under Section 362(a) of the United States
Bankruptcy Code does not prohibit a suit or counterclaim to
foreclose.
    (e) Demand to Commence Suit. Upon receipt of an owner's
confirmation that the lien is not involved in pending
litigation and a request for the recorder to serve a Demand to
Commence Suit, the recorder shall serve a Demand to Commence
Suit on the lienholder of the expired lien as provided in
Section 34 of the Mechanics Lien Act. A recorder may request
that the Secretary of State assist in providing registered
agent information or obtain information from the Secretary of
State's registered business database when the recorder seeks to
serve a Demand to Commence suit on the lienholder. Upon
request, the Secretary of State, or his or her designee, shall
provide the last known address or registered agent information
for a lienholder who is incorporated or doing business in the
State. The recorder must record a copy of the Demand to
Commence suit in the grantor's index or the grantee's index
identifying the mechanics lien and include the corresponding
document number and the date of demand. The recorder may, at
his or her discretion, notify the Secretary of State regarding
a Demand to Commence suit determined to involve a company,
corporation, or business registered with that office.
    When the lienholder commences a suit or files an answer
within 30 days or the lienholder records a release of lien with
the county recorder as required by subsection (a) of Section 34
of the Mechanics Lien Act, then the demand and referral process
is completed for the recorder for that property. If service
under this Section is responded to consistent with Section 34
of the Mechanics Lien Act, the recorder may not proceed under
subsection (f). If no response is received consistent with
Section 34 of the Mechanics Lien Act, the recorder may proceed
under subsection (f).
    (f) Referral. Upon receipt of an owner's confirmation that
the lien is not involved in pending litigation and a request
for the recorder to proceed with a referral, the recorder
shall: (i) file the Notice of Referral with the county's code
hearing unit; (ii) identify and notify the lienholder by
telephone, if available, of the referral and send a copy of the
Notice of Referral by certified mail to the lienholder using
information included in the recorded mechanics lien or the last
known address or registered agent received from the Secretary
of State or obtained from the Secretary of State's registered
business database; (iii) send a copy of the Notice of Referral
by mail to the physical address of the property owner
associated with the lien; and (iv) record a copy of the Notice
of Referral in the grantor's index or the grantee's index
identifying the mechanics lien and include the corresponding
document number. The Notice of Referral shall clearly identify
the person, persons, or entity believed to be the owner,
assignee, successor, or beneficiary of the lien. The recorder
may, at his or her discretion, notify the Secretary of State
regarding a referral determined to involve a company,
corporation, or business registered with that office.
    No earlier than 30 business days after the date the
lienholder is required to respond to a Demand to Commence Suit
under Section 34 of the Mechanics Lien Act, the code hearing
unit shall schedule a hearing to occur at least 30 days after
sending notice of the date of hearing. Notice of the hearing
shall be provided by the county recorder, by and through his or
her representative, to the filer, or the party represented by
the filer, of the expired lien, the legal representative of the
recorder of deeds who referred the case, and the last owner of
record, as identified in the Notice of Referral.
    If the recorder shows by clear and convincing evidence that
the lien in question is an expired lien, the administrative law
judge shall rule the lien is forfeited under Section 34.5 of
the Mechanics Lien Act and that the lien no longer affects the
chain of title of the property in any way. The judgment shall
be forwarded to all parties identified in this subsection. Upon
receiving judgment of a forfeited lien, the recorder shall,
within 5 business days, record a copy of the judgment in the
grantor's index or the grantee's index.
    If the administrative law judge finds the lien is not
expired, the recorder shall, no later than 5 business days
after receiving notice of the decision of the administrative
law judge, record a copy of the judgment in the grantor's index
or the grantee's index.
    A decision by an administrative law judge is reviewable
under the Administrative Review Law, and nothing in this
Section precludes a property owner or lienholder from
proceeding with a civil action to resolve questions concerning
a mechanics lien.
    A lienholder or property owner may remove the action from
the code hearing unit to the circuit court as provided in
subsection (i).
    (g) Final administrative decision. The recorder's decision
to refer a mechanics lien or serve a Demand to Commence Suit is
a final administrative decision that is subject to review under
the Administrative Review Law by the circuit court of the
county where the real property is located. The standard of
review by the circuit court shall be consistent with the
Administrative Review Law.
    (h) Liability. A recorder and his or her employees or
agents are not subject to personal liability by reason of any
error or omission in the performance of any duty under this
Section, except in the case of willful or wanton conduct. The
recorder and his or her employees or agents are not liable for
the decision to refer a lien or serve a Demand to Commence
Suit, or failure to refer or serve a Demand to Commence Suit,
of a lien under this Section.
    (i) Private actions; use of demand and referral process.
Nothing in this Section precludes a private right of action by
any party with an interest in the property affected by the
mechanics lien or a decision by the code hearing unit. Nothing
in this Section requires a person or entity who may have a
mechanics lien recorded against his or her property to use the
mechanics lien demand and referral process created by this
Section.
    A lienholder or property owner may remove a matter in the
referral process to the circuit court at any time prior to the
final decision of the administrative law judge by delivering a
certified notice of the suit filed in the circuit court to the
administrative law judge. Upon receipt of the certified notice,
the administrative law judge shall dismiss the matter without
prejudice. If the matter is dismissed due to removal, then the
demand and referral process is completed for the recorder for
that property. If the circuit court dismisses the removed
matter without deciding on whether the lien is expired and
without prejudice, the recorder may reinstitute the demand and
referral process under subsection (d).
    (j) Repeal. This Section is repealed on January 1, 2022.
(Source: P.A. 100-1061, eff. 1-1-19.)
 
    Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
becoming law.

Effective Date: 8/9/2019