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The purpose of
Preliminary Lien Notices

California Preliminary Lien Notices can help keep you from getting "stiffed"

By Diane Dennis

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Even though we all expect to be paid, and on time, for our work unfortunately there are times when that doesn't happen.

These are the times when the preliminary notice is important - walking around muttering #*$%&, while it might 'feel good', won't get you paid...

(Preliminary Lien Notices and Notice to Owner forms for other states)

The main purpose of the California preliminary lien notices is to announce that you and your company are present and that you have a financial interest in the property.

Even though your General/Direct Contractor (GC/DC) knows that you are involved on the project, his customer (presumably the owner of the property) may not know.

It's your legal responsibility to tell the Owner (and the rest of the financially interested parties) that you have a claim on this property, by processing the California 20 day Preliminary Notice form.

Here's why:

You've finished the job, and your general contractor is refusing to pay you. After you've gone to court and you've won your judgment against the GC, who is going to make sure that you get paid?

Don't look at the judge, he's a judge, not a bill collector. Sure he ruled in your favor, maybe even awarded you more than what you were asking for (hah!), but he's not going to reach into the GC's checking account to get your money for you.

Don't look at the GC yourself, he didn't want to pay you to begin with, remember? He's not going to write you a check, not if the judge doesn't make him do it.

Well..., not a good check anyway. You see, he knows what you now know, the judge isn't going to reach into his checking account and get your money for you.

So... now you're back to where you were before you went to court (except that, in addition to still not being paid, now you're in debt to your attorney), the GC/DC still owes you and he still won't pay you! What to do ??

Short of a broken knee cap or two (there have been times when I've wished I could do that - especially to a major sub-buster in Victorville, CA) ;) about the only thing you can do is file a lien on the property you did the work on.

BUT, only if you processed your... California preliminary notice form! (It's important to note that fraudulent mechanic's liens are a punishable offense in some cases).

The individual states' requirements typically must be followed pretty much to the letter; courts don't appreciate it when legal forms are not processed correctly and on time.

Here are some additional articles regarding all states preliminary lien notices:

Articles in this series:

(Please note that some of these links will take you to my other website - Download-Construction-Forms.com - until I can get them all moved here. A separate window will open so that you can return here if you'd like)

Preliminary Notice Forms
Important: Even if the Owner has paid YOUR customer in full, you STILL file the lien. Here's why...

California 20 Day Preliminary Notices, the 20 day mark
What the 20 days means...

Getting the California 20 day Preliminary Notice info from your customer
Don't be nervous about getting the prelim info from your customer

California law governs the text of the preliminary notice form
Make sure your preliminary notice form has the correct text or you may end up without lien rights. Please note that this article is currently out-of-date and needs to be updated.

California 20 day Preliminary notices protect your lien rights
Learn how preliminary notices protect your lien rights

Certified Preliminary Notice mailings that are refused
California civil code protects you against refused certified mailings of 20-day preliminary notices

Photo-Copied Signatures on California 20-Day Preliminary Notice Forms
The preliminary notice form itself can be a photocopy but the signature must be original or "wet"

Amending Preliminary Notices
You've issued your preliminary notice and now your customer is increasing the amount of work he wants done. Should you amend your preliminary notice by sending another one?

Preliminary Notices and Non-Responsibility Forms
The Owner filed a Notice of Non-Responsibility. Should the contractor/supplier still send the Owner a preliminary notice?

Dollar Amounts on Preliminary Notice Forms
Do you need to include a dollar amount on preliminary notices or can you send it without a dollar amount?

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