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The California Preliminary Notice Covers Up To 20 Days Back

By Dave Barnier

#1 of the Top 10 Misconceptions about Mechanic's Liens

A California preliminary notice must be served within twenty days of the claimant first providing labor and/or materials and/or equipment etc. (benefit) to the project - otherwise, the claimant loses his entire mechanic's lien rights

Not true! That's a huge misconception!

A mechanic's lien claimant (this would be the subcontractor, supplier, or service provider) should serve his California preliminary notice on the reputed property owner, reputed lender, etc. within 20 days of his start date.

His start date is the date that he first provides benefit to the project. The preliminary notice can also be served before the job starts.

But all is not lost if the deadline date is missed!

"If he misses the 20-day deadline and serves his California preliminary notice more than 20 days after his start date, the claimant does not lose his entire mechanic's lien rights."

He still has mechanic's lien rights for all the labor/materials/equipment/etc. that he's provided from the date 20 days prior to the date that he served the Preliminary Notice, forward - because a preliminary notice covers 20 days back from the date the preliminary notice form is served.

The date of service is determined by the date that the preliminary notice is mailed so, the preliminary notice covers 20 days back from the date the preliminary notice is mailed or served.

"So, even if you miss the 20-day 'deadline', still serve the California preliminary notice to protect the balance of your lien rights."

The California preliminary notice must be served by certified mail, and the green card receipts must be retained to show proof of delivery (or proof that delivery was attempted but refused by the recipient).

In addition, there's no such thing as a Preliminary Notice being served too early.

Because the preliminary notice covers 20 days back from the date it is served, it can be served as soon as the contract has been signed, it does not have to wait until the job has been started.

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The estimate and the identity of the owner must be reasonably investigated by the claimant prior to serving the Preliminary Notice, but once the Preliminary Notice is served, the claimant need not revise his estimate nor serve a new owner that he learns about after serving his Preliminary Notice, even if the notice was served prior to starting the job.

--
Thank you to Dave Barnier for the above information. :) Mr. Barnier is a practicing litigation attorney in San Diego CA and can be reached at 619.682.4842.

The information in this article is based upon California law current at the time of writing and is provided for general information, only. The information provided illustrates laws and legal principals in general. Any information or analysis presented in this article is intended solely to educate the reader on general issues. A comprehensive review of facts, documents, and applicable laws is always required before any attorney can competently provide any legal advice regarding any particular situation. In short: Please do not rely on any part of this article when analyzing any specific situation affecting you or your business.

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Article Series: Preliminary Lien Law


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