Preliminary Notice Covers 20 Days

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

A 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!

A mechanic's lien claimant (this would be the subcontractor or supplier) should serve his 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 if he misses this deadline, all is not necessarily lost

If he serves his 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 filed.

The date of service is determined by the date that the Preliminary Notice is mailed by certified mail. So, the preliminary notice covers 20 days back from the date the preliminary notice is mailed or served.

The 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).

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.

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.


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Above article written by:
David J. Barnier,
Partner at Barker Olmsted and Barnier, APLC


Disclaimer -
This article presents a discussion of general laws, rules, and strategies related to mechanic's liens and other construction issues and is intended to provide background information that will assist the reader in understanding the general laws and rules that apply. Examples and hypotheticals are described in this article for the purpose of illustrating these general rules, however no information within this article should be relied upon when analyzing a specific real-life situation.

For each real-life situation that the reader experiences, it is necessary that the reader consult with an experienced construction law attorney to ensure that the reader's specific situation is evaluated. The laws and rules affecting mechanic's liens and construction are extremely complex and no attorney can provide in a writing an explanation that will empower the reader to use only the information in an article to evaluate how the law will apply to a specific real-life situation. In other words, the reader should not rely on the information in this article when addressing a particular real-life situation.