By Diane Dennis
What to do?
You still file the lien because it's the legal responsibility of the Owner to insure that everyone gets paid. Please note that filing a lien is only allowable if you properly serve your 20-Day Preliminary Notices.
This may mean that the Owner/Lender has to:
That's why you still lien, because the Owner didn't do what he was supposed to do, which was to make sure that you got paid.
He can't say that he didn't know you were owed money, because you have proof (the proof is explained a bit further on) that he did indeed receive your preliminary notice which told him that you are present on the job.
Now let's take a look at the importance of processing these notices in a timely manner.
No ifs, ands, or buts about it, the preliminary notice MUST be mailed out within the time allowed by the law. Lien rights are often lost due to this mistake.
The time-frame varies from state to state, so you must check to see what the requirement is in the state the job is located in.
Couple examples: It's my understanding that in one state the preliminary notices must be processed within 8 days of the first shipment or incurring of labor costs, whichever applies to your situation.
I'm told that a couple other states require that these notices be processed before the first shipment or incurring of labor costs.
No matter which state your company might be located in, you need to
follow the prelim laws for the state that the project is located in.
California contractors and suppliers have up to 20 days after the date that work starts or material is supplied. The
lien statutes in most states must be followed precisely, courts do not
afford much latitude with respect to timelines and compliance with
For contractors, this means you've got to process and mail 20 day preliminary notices within 20 days of the first day you either start work or supply material to the project (or place the material order if it's a special order item).
For material suppliers, this means within 20 days of the first day you supply material to the project (or order it if it's a special order item).
The 20-day preliminary notices cover all work, material, etc. for up to 20 days prior to the postmark date on the mailing of the preliminary notice.
So, if you've been on the job for 30 days and are just now sending the preliminary notice, you'll be covered for 20 days back (or from after the first 10 days forward).
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