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What is a Preliminary Lien Notice

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When you have to get what is called a mechanic’s lien, you may need to know a lot of little details in order to ensure that you’re covering all of your bases. Not only that, but depending on your current state, or even the state that the project is in if it’s not in your home state, you need to know what all steps you need to take in order to get that mechanic’s lien, and what kind of notice you need to give your client. In this guide, we’re going to talk about what a preliminary lien notice is, and give you some important tips to consider.

What is a Preliminary Notice?

When you’re sending a preliminary notice to your client, it’s basically the notice that tells the general contractor or the owner of a project involving your construction skills that you as a contractor, sub-contractor, material seller, or even other party in the matter (this could be just a random person or project witness) that you’re going to reserve the right to file a mechanic’s lien to protect yourself from not getting paid.

This it’s not actually a mechanic’s lien, but what it does is literally tell them that you’re going to if you have to (believe it or not, this often gets confused with a mechanic’s lien). In certain other locations, this can also be called a Materialman’s Notice to the Owner, a Notice of Furnishing, or just simply a Notice to the Owner of a project.

Different States, Different Stakes

While you don’t always have to have a preliminary notice, most states (forty out of the 50 U.S. states to be exact) require you to file a preliminary notice and delivery it in order to maintain your rights to file a mechanic’s lien later on. You also need to know about the timing of how to file your mechanic’s lien too, and even though most states require a notice, it depends on when the project starts, or when you’re finished with it. Therefore, you may need to file within a week or so of starting a project, or even sometimes up to three months after the last day on the job. This all depends on the state that you’re filing your mechanic’s lien.

Not only that, but some states require a notice and have different applications depending on what exactly you were doing in a major contracted job. Some states even require you to send more than one notice of lien if you are doing multiple projects.

What Happens if I Don’t File Notice?

Sure there are some states that don’t require a notice, but in general practice, it’s the safest way to ensure that you’ll be able to file a mechanic’s lien, and not only that, but if you’re in a state that requires a preliminary notice, not only can you lose your right to file a mechanic’s lien, and you may even face more legal troubles because if you do file for a mechanic’s lien, you may be faced with filing a frivolous lien.

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