Note: This article was originally published in October, 2015, and was updated with new content in April, 2017.
Not all states’ lien notice laws were created equal. If you’ve done construction work or supplied materials in more than one state, you’ve probably experienced this first hand.
The team at zlien does work across the country on a daily basis, so we have mapped the Lien Genome (no really, we have) to make sure we know the rules and requirements for all situations in all states. Keep reading to get a snapshot of some complicated regulations we came across for the 8 states with the toughest lien notice laws.
The 8-Day State
Oregon requires different notices depending on the lien claimant’s role and the type of project. They just love making it complicated, don’t they! A Notice of Right to Lien must be given during work on a project, but no later than 8 business days of first furnishing labor and/or materials. An Information Notice to Owner must be delivered at the same time the construction contract with the owner is signed. But if the contract value goes from less than $2000 to more than $2000, the deadline for delivering the Information Notice to Owner changes.
The 20-Day States
Arizona requires that every person who furnishes labor, materials, or professional services send a Preliminary 20-Day Notice in order to preserve their lien rights. The notice must be sent within 20 days of beginning work on a project in order to fully protect their right to file a lien. If a notice is sent late, it will apply to work done after the date of submission and work done in the 20 days prior to the date of submission, but will not apply to any work done before the 20 days preceding submission. You better whip out your calendar to make sure you nail this one! (Or check here for more info.)
In California, failure to provide preliminary notice to all appropriate parties in accordance with the form and time requirements set forth is fatal to filing a mechanics lien. The rules are complicated about who needs to file, so make sure to double check if you aren’t sure where you stand.
The California Preliminary 20-Day Notice must be sent within 20 days of first furnishing labor and/or materials. Like in Arizona, late notices apply to the preceding 20 days but not to work done before that. Note that in California, notice can never be sent to early, so it is best practice to submit preliminary notice as early as possible.
The Two-Notice States
Nevada requires that certain parties provide a Notice of Right to Lien to the property owner and the prime contractor within 31 days of first furnishing labor and/or materials. In addition, certain lien claimants are also required to send a 15-Day Notice of Intent to Lien to the owner and the prime contractor at least 15 days prior to recording the lien itself. The rules are complicated about who files what, so make sure to examine the requirements carefully!
Colorado has some crazy lien laws. Any party other than the prime contractor is permitted to file a Notice to Owner that effectively requires the owner to withhold funds to ensure payment for the notifying party. A mechanics lien claimant is required to submit a Notice of Intent to Lien as well as a copy of the lien itself to the property owner, reputed owner, or owner’s agent at least 10 days prior to filing a mechanics lien. Phew!
The Monthly Notice States
Tennessee requires different preliminary notices for almost every project role. Prime contractors must submit a Notice to Owner before commencing work. Suppliers must do the same if contracted directly with the owner. Subcontractors, laborers, and suppliers not contracted with the owner must provide Notice of Non-Payment within 90 days of the last day of the month when labor and/or materials were provided. And separate notices are required for each month unpaid services and/or materials are provided!
Preliminary notice requirements in Louisiana vary depending on the project type and the lien claimant’s role. Prime contractors are required to send a Notice of Contract or a Notice of Lien Rights depending on the type of project and the value of the contract. Equipment lessors must deliver “notice” to the prime contractor and to the owner within 10 days of furnishing equipment. Material suppliers must deliver a Notice of Non-Payment to the property owner, but the deadline depends on who hired them. In some cases, notice must be sent on a monthly basis. Seriously? Seriously.
For residential projects, Texas requires that most parties send notice by the 15th day of the 2nd or 3rd month following the month that work was performed and unpaid. (Is that a tongue twister?) The deadline varies depending on the type of project and the role of the lien claimant, so make sure you read carefully and submit notice in the right month! To make it even more complicated, the notice recipient also varies depending on project type and the claimant role. Texas sure is a tough one!