44A-11.1. Lien agent; designation and duties.

(a) With regard to any improvements to real property to which this Article is applicable for which the costs of the undertaking are thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) or more, either at the time that the original building permit is issued or, in cases in which no building permit is required, at the time the contract for the improvements is entered into with the owner, the owner shall designate a lien agent no later than the time the owner first contracts with any person to improve the real property. Provided, however, that the owner is not required to designate a lien agent for improvements to an existing single-family residential dwelling unit as defined in G.S. 87-15.5(7) that is occupied by the owner as a residence, or for the addition of an accessory building or accessory structure as defined in the North Carolina Uniform Residential Building Code, the use of which is incidental to that residence. The owner shall deliver written notice of designation to its designated lien agent by any method authorized in G.S. 44A-11.2(f), and shall include in its notice the street address, tax map lot and block number, reference to recorded instrument, or any other description that reasonably identifies the real property for the improvements to which the lien agent has been designated, and the owner's contact information. Designation of a lien agent pursuant to this section does not make the lien agent an agent of the owner for purposes of receiving a Claim of Lien on Real Property, a Notice of Claim of Lien upon Funds, a Notice of Subcontract, or for any purpose other than the receipt of notices to the lien agent required under G.S. 44A-11.2.

(a1) Where the improvements to a real property leasehold are limited to the purchase, transportation, and setup of a manufactured home, as defined in G.S. 143-143.9(6), for which there is a current certificate of title, the purchase price of the manufactured home shall be excluded in determining whether the costs of the undertaking are thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) or more.

(b) The lien agent shall be chosen from among the list of registered lien agents maintained by the Department of Insurance pursuant to G.S. 58-26-45.

(c) Upon receipt of written notification of designation by an owner pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the lien agent shall have the duties as set forth in G.S. 58-26-45(b).

(d) In the event that the lien agent resigns, is no longer licensed to serve as a lien agent, revokes its consent to serve as lien agent or is removed by the owner, or otherwise becomes unable or unwilling to serve before the completion of all improvements to the real property, the owner shall within three business days of notice of such event do all of the following:

(1) Designate a successor lien agent and provide written notice of designation to the successor lien agent pursuant to subsection (a) of this section.

(2) Provide the contact information for the successor lien agent to the inspection department that issued any required building permit and to any persons who requested information from the owner relating to the predecessor lien agent.

(3) Display the contact information for the successor lien agent on the building permit or attachment thereto posted on the improved property or, if no building permit was required, on a sign complying with G.S. 44A-11.2(e).

(e) Until such time as the owner has fully complied with subsection (d) of this section, notice transmitted to the predecessor lien agent shall be deemed effective notice, notwithstanding the fact that the lien agent may have resigned or otherwise become unable or unwilling to serve.

(f) Any attorney who, in connection with a transaction involving improved real property subject to this section for which the attorney is serving as the closing attorney, contacts the lien agent in writing and requests copies of the notices to lien agent, renewals of notices to lien agent, and cancellations of notices to lien agent received by the lien agent relating to the real property not more than five business days prior to the date of recordation of a deed or deed of trust on the real property, shall be deemed to have fulfilled the attorney's professional obligation as closing attorney to check such notices to lien agent, renewals of notices to lien agent, and cancellations of notices to lien agent and shall have no further duty to request that the lien agent provide information pertaining to notices or cancellations received subsequently by the lien agent. (2012-158, s. 2; 2013-16, s. 1; 2013-117, s. 1; 2014-115, s. 35(a); 2016-59, s. 7; 2017-168, s. 1.)