Is a Notice of Lien Required in Your State?

adminMechanics Lien, Notice of Intent, Preliminary Notice

Notice of Lien

This blog is for educational purposes only and not intended for legal advice.

A Notice of Lien sometimes called a preliminary notice, is sent early in a project so as to notify contractors, owners, and lenders that you are working on the project. Sometimes, but not always, these are required under state law.

If the notice of lien is properly served, and the subcontractor or supplier remains unpaid, a lien can be filed on the property.  And the flip side remains true – if you do not file the notice of lien, you will be prevented from seeking a lien later. How these are handled, procedurally, differs from state to state. You must know the rules that apply in your state and/or municipality.

DIVERSE RULES AMONG THE STATES

There is no agreement amongst the states on the handling of notices of lien, and you must consider local law on these issues.  We say that a lot, to consider local law when making decisions, but here, we really mean it. Some states require technical delivery of the document to the proper party.  Some consider the use of a preliminary notice to be a “best practice.” Others don’t require that you use one at all.  Some states require a notice of lien from sub-contractors only, while others implicate “all participants.” The terminology differs too, so make sure whether you should file a Notice to Owner; Notice to Owner and Contractor; Notice of Furnishing; or Notice of Right to Lien.

No matter what, check with local authorities to determine what requirements your project is facing. 

WHAT ABOUT SPECIFICS?

Most states require the filing of a Notice of Lien or Preliminary Notice around the time that work begins on a project.  Some states have included time restraints on when these can be filed, and they vary from state to state.  Arizona, California, and Utah, for example, require that general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers file a Preliminary Notice within 20 days of work beginning.  Some states (Oklahoma – 75 days) give you more time, others (Oregon – 8 days) give you less.  Adding to the confusion, some states have different time restrictions based on the type of project.  You must consider the law that applies to you and your projects to protect your lien rights. 

A number of states do not require this process

A number of states do not require this process when it comes to the creation of a lien, but that does not mean that they have been quiet on the subject.  These states do not punish you for not filing a notice of lien, but they do consider it a “Best Practice” and likewise, we recommend delivering this kind of document whenever possible. Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, and most importantly, New York fall into this category. 

In several states, it’s not clear if the notice is required 

No matter what, you cannot assume anything when it comes to how different states handle this problem.  Several states seem to make this complicated.  Indiana, for example, changes the time limit from 30 to 60 days for residential projects, and 90 days for commercial projects. Connecticut has no requirement to use a Notice of Lien, but they do require you to file an Intent to Lien, which serves a similar purpose but only arises later in the relationship. 

COMPLIANCE BEYOND STATE RULES

Chances are, you work in one or a handful of states, and keeping these rules straight isn’t a challenge.  But with general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and other parts of a construction project that work across the country, it can be impossible to keep these things straight.  Whether the notice is required in your jurisdiction or not, it is generally considered a “best practice” and is something that should be done when possible. 

Once you learn how your state’s procedure and requirements, care should be taken to include all information they need.  The form used for a Notice of Lien will differ greatly from state to state, but make sure to answer everything accurately and completely. 

  •  A preliminary notice must be delivered in most states, while some other states don’t require a preliminary notice. In some cases courts have found the notice not required, but a best practice. At National Lien and Bond, we suggest always filing a preliminary notice in any state, and carefully following the state’s requirements to protect your payment.
  • States call these notices by several different names, including Notice to Owner; Notice to Owner and Contractor; Notice of Furnishing; and Notice of Right to Lien.
  • Some states require notice from only subcontractors, others from all participants in the project. More states require notices for sub-contractors than for prime or general contractors.

Here you may find a quick overview of Preliminary Notice laws by state: 

  • Alabama – (subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers)-The state law requires a notice sent to the owner before the performance of the project.
  • Alaska – (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) A Notice of Right to Lien is served to the owner of the property before starting the work. This proves that the proprietor has consented the work.
  • Arizona – (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) Requires service of a ‘Preliminary Twenty Day Notice’. This must be sent within twenty days after starting work on the project.
  • Arkansas – (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) A Notice to Owner and Contractor must be sent to the owner of a residential property before commencing work, or, for commercial projects, the notice must be sent within 75 days of completion.
  • California – (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) A preliminary notice is sent within twenty days from when you first furnished labor or materials to the job site.
  • Connecticut– For general contractors, there is no notice requirement, however, it is advised to file an affidavit with the country clerk within 15 days of commencing work. For subcontractors and suppliers, there is no preliminary notice requirement, however, a notice of intent must be filed before commencing the lien process.
  • Colorado– None, but sending a preliminary notice is always a best practice. Colorado does require the extra step of filing a notice of intent before a lien can be filed.
  • Delaware– None, but sending a preliminary notice is always a best practice.
  • Florida – (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) A notice must be sent to the owner within 45 days of starting the work.
  • Georgia – (subcontractors, material, and equipment suppliers). If the owner files a Notice of Commencement, the Notice to Contractor must be sent to the Owner and Contractor within 30 days of first delivering services or materials.
  • Hawaii– None, but filing a preliminary notice is always a best practice.
  • Idaho– (Prime Contractors) In Idaho, prime/general contractors are required to give notice for some residential jobs.
  • Illinois– (subcontractors, material, and equipment suppliers)  Illinois requires 60 days’ notice on all Residential projects and 90-days notices on all commercial projects for subs and suppliers.
  • Indiana – (subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) A notice is required either 30 or 60 days after commencement of work/furnishing on some residential projects, and 90 days after the end of some commercial projects.
  • Iowa – (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) For residential projects, a notice is required upon commencement of work. For commercial projects, a notice may be required within 30 days of the first furnishing.
  • Kansas – None, but sending a preliminary notice is always a best practice. Kansas does require the extra step of filing a notice of intent before a lien can be filed.
  • Kentucky– (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) Depending upon the type of project, Kentucky requires between 75- and 120-days’ notice from final furnishing.
  • Louisiana – (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) For some projects, a Notice of Contract is required before work begins. For suppliers, notice may be required 30 or 60 days after furnishing. Also, Louisiana requires a notice of intent before a lien can be filed.
  • Maine– None, but sending a preliminary notice is always a best practice.
  • Maryland– None, but sending a preliminary notice is always a best practice. Maryland also requires a notice of intent before a lien can be filed.
  • Massachusetts – (subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) Some sub-contractors and suppliers are required to provide Notice of Identification 30 days after starting work on the project.
  • Michigan – (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) A preliminary notice must be sent by the general contractor upon request. For subs and suppliers, notice is required 20 days after first furnishing.
  • Minnesota– (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) A preliminary notice is required from the general contractor but can be included in the contract itself. For subcontractors, and equipment and material providers, notice is due within 45 days of first furnishing.
  • Mississippi– (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) General contractors must provide notice of subs and suppliers upon request, in addition to including general notice in the contract. Subcontractors and suppliers may provide notice through a contract with the general contractor or owner, or in the alternative may send notice within 30 days of first furnishing. Mississippi also has pre-lien notice requirements.
  • Missouri– There is a pre-lien notice requirement for original contractors.  If one is not provided, there are no lien rights.   The notice shall be provided by the original contractor to the person with whom the contract is made or to the owner if there is no contract, prior to receiving payment in any form of any kind from such person, (a) either at the time of the execution of the contract, (b) when the materials are delivered, (c) when the work is commenced, or (d) delivered with the first invoice.
  • Montana – (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) A preliminary notice is required only for some projects within the 20-day period after first furnishing.
  • Nebraska – None, but sending a preliminary notice is always a best practice.
  • Nevada – (subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) Subcontractors and suppliers must provide Notice to owner and general contractor within 31 days of first furnishing labor or materials. In addition, for general and subcontractors as well as suppliers, a Notice of Intent is required 15 days prior to filing a lien on residential projects.
  • New Hampshire– (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) New Hampshire has timelines and rules associated with providing both a Notice of Furnishing and an Account of Work Performed.
  • New Jersey – (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) A notice of any unpaid balance should be sent within 60 days after completion of any residential project. A notice must be served within ten days of the end of a commercial project.
  • New Mexico – (subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) On some projects, a notice is required 60 days after first furnishing.
  • New York – None, but sending a preliminary notice is always a best practice.
  • North Carolina – (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) A notice is required within 15 days of first furnishing.
  • North Dakota – None, but sending preliminary notice is always a best practice. North Dakota does require the extra step of filing a notice of intent before a lien can be filed.
  • Ohio – (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) A preliminary notice is required for commercial projects within 21 days after starting the work.
  • Oklahoma – (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) A notice is required within 75 days of first furnishing for sub-contractors and equipment suppliers, depending on the type of job and cost of labor or goods, and in some cases may also be required for general contractors.
  • Oregon – (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) When the contracted work begins, a notice must be served to the owner within eight business days.
  •  Pennsylvania – (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) In Pennsylvania, if a Notice of Commencement was filed, a Notice of Furnishing must be filed within 45 days of first furnishing labor and materials. In addition, a 30-day notice is required before filing a lien.
  • Rhode Island – (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) Preliminary notice within 10 days of commencement of work. Notice is also required before filing a lien.
  • South Carolina – (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers)  Notice of Furnishing is not a precondition to the right to perfect a mechanic’s lien in South Carolina.
  • South Dakota – (subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) If a Notice of Commencement is filed, some subcontractors and suppliers to subcontractors must give Preliminary Notice (to the owner and general contractor) within 60 days of last furnishing labor or materials.
  • Tennessee– (subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) A Notice to Owner is required before starting the project.
  • Texas – (subcontractors, material, and equipment suppliers) There are monthly notice requirements, depending on the type of project, which requires notifying the owner and other parties when work has been performed, or goods/equipment supplied but is unpaid.
  • Utah – (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) A preliminary notice is required within 20 days after providing the first services.
  • Vermont – None, but sending the preliminary notice is always a best practice.
  • Virginia– (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) A preliminary notice is required within 30 days of the first furnishing.
  • Washington – (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) A preliminary notice is required ten days from the first furnishing of a residential project, and within 60 days on a commercial project.
  • West Virginia – None, but sending a preliminary notice is always a best practice.
  • Wisconsin– (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) General contractors can provide notice in the contract, or served within 10 days of beginning work. Subcontractors and suppliers must provide notice within 60 days of first furnishing. In addition, a 30-day notice is required prior to filing a lien.
  • Wyoming– (general contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers) For general contractors, a notice must be filed prior to receiving payment. Subcontractors and suppliers must provide notice within 30 days of first furnishing. In addition, a 20-day notice is required prior to filing a lien.

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