› Preliminary Lien Notices

The purpose of
Preliminary Lien Notices

By Diane Dennis

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

These are the times that these prelim documents are most important - walking around muttering #*$%&, while it might 'feel good', won't get you paid... (been there done that myself)

Preliminary lien notices are designed to help keep you from getting "stiffed"

The main purpose of these documents 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 (or the preliminary notice form for your state).

If you don't, chances are you're screwed. :(

How The Preliminary Notice Protects You

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 preliminary notice!

A Mechanic's Lien Without A Valid Preliminary Lien Notice Is Most Likely A Fraudulent Mechanic's Lien

Filing a mechanic's lien without having done a valid preliminary lien notice makes for a fraudulent mechanic's lien, and 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.

Article Series: Preliminary Lien Notices

(Please note: links with an asterisk (*) will take you to my other website - Download-Construction-Forms.com - until I can get those webpages moved here. A separate window will open, allowing you to easily return here.)

Preliminary Notice Forms: The Owner Paid Your Customer But Your Customer Didn't Pay You

  • Can you still lien the property?

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

  • *Make sure they're done proper and you're golden

Certified Preliminary Notice mailings that are refused

  • *California civil code protects you when your certified mailing of the 20-day preliminary notice is refused

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?

Arizona 20-Day Preliminary Notices

  • Arizona's laws are very strict on what a preliminary notice is supposed to 'say', the text of the proof document, the timing of service, etc.

Preliminary Lien Notices: What You Don't Know

  • What you don’t know about the pesky preliminary lien notices can hurt you.

Preliminary Notices: Don't Get Stiffed!

  • It's YOUR responsibility to let everyone know that you have a financial stake in the project - don't stiff yourself!

Preliminary Lien Notices and Reputed Owners

  • When filling in various construction documents such as the Preliminary Notice forms you'll see something along the lines of...

At one time this form was mandated by California to be titled "20-Day Preliminary Notice Form". The California mandate has since changed and the form is now known as the "Preliminary Notice Form". Each state that requires this type of notice will have its own requirement in regard to the title of the form.

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