California 20-Day Preliminary Notice certified mailing refused?

The California Civil Code protects against refused certified mailings

QUESTION: I sent 20 day preliminary notices for a job we are doing and one of the certified prelim envelopes came back as refused. Do I still have prelim rights?

Anita, GMC Electric



ANSWER: Yes, if the owner refuses to accept the certified mail envelope, service is still complete.

Here's what Civil Code section 3097(f) provides. Note that subsection (c) states that service "is complete" at the time of deposit of the certified mail.

(f) The notice required under this section may be served as follows:

(1) If the person to be notified resides in this state, by delivering the notice personally, or by leaving it at his or her address of residence or place of business with some person in charge, or by first-class registered or certified mail, postage prepaid, addressed to the person to whom notice is to be given at his or her residence or place of business address or at the address shown by the building permit on file with the authority issuing a building permit for the work, or at an address recorded pursuant to subdivision (j).

(2) If the person to be notified does not reside in this state, by any method enumerated in paragraph (1) of this subdivision. If the person cannot be served by any of these methods, then notice may be given by first-class certified or registered mail, addressed to the construction lender or to the original contractor.

(3) If service is made by first-class certified or registered mail, service is complete at the time of the deposit of that registered or certified mail.

It's obviously important to keep the returned envelope (preferably unopened, but if the returned envelope is opened, it's probably not a problem) to be able to show that the preliminary notice WAS sent by certified mail to the owner at the owner's address, but the owner simply refused to accept the certified mail.

Thank you to Dave Barnier for the above response. :) 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 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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