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Arizona 20 Day Preliminary Notice: The Why, Who, What, When, and How

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Arizona Preliminary Notice

With iconic landscapes like the Grand Canyon or Cathedral Rock, Arizona has some of the best hiking trails in the country. But before you hit the trail, there’s some gear you need to put together to be safe – a map, water, snacks, etc.

Just like getting your gear together before you take off on a hike, you need certain things taken care of at the start of a construction project. In this case, we’re talking about a preliminary notice — which in Arizona is also called a “preliminary 20-day notice of lien” or simply, a “20-day notice.” By sending notice, parties can help establish a transparent payment chain and open lines of communication, all while keeping lien rights alive in case the project goes awry. Please read on as we cover the why, who, what, when, and how for preliminary 20-day notices in Arizona.

WHY Send a 20-Day Preliminary Notice?

The short answer: Sending notice is key to protecting your right to file a lien. While filing a lien should be a last result, preserving the right to file a lien is beneficial just in case a project goes awry.

The long answer: Providing preliminary notice is a mandatory prerequisite to filing a mechanics lien in Arizona. Preliminary notices also support good working relationships, as they make sure that owners, lenders, and general contractors know who is working for them (this is especially beneficial on large projects).

Basically, a preliminary notice lets everyone on a construction project know that you are working on the project as well. It’s a good way to make sure that the top-of-the-chain parties know who all is working on a project. This can really be handy when working on a large scale project. Keeping everyone informed and on the same page on a construction project encourages cooperation and fair payment – and preliminary notices go a long way in this endeavor.

Keep in mind:

  • Don’t be afraid of sending a preliminary notice! Keeping everyone informed promotes cooperation and facilitates communication.
  • In order to file a mechanics lien on an owner-occupied residence in Arizona, one must have a written contract with the property owner.

Starting a new project or job in AZ? A 20-Day Preliminary Notice is required to secure your payment rights. Fill out your Preliminary Notice for free with zlien‘s easy to use document widget

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Download a blank Arizona 20-day preliminary notice template which includes a  1-pg Lien & Notice Fact Sheet


WHO Must Send an Arizona Preliminary Notice? And to Whom?

The short answer: All participants who may claim an Arizona mechanics lien must send a preliminary 20-day notice in order to preserve these rights (laborers working for wages do not need to send a preliminary notice).  This includes general contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, and design professionals who contract with the owner or architect (provided the architect has a written contract with the owner). Suppliers to suppliers do not have lien rights in Arizona, however, even when you aren’t required to send notice, it’s probably a good idea to send it anyway. As mentioned above, notices go a long way to create a more transparent payment chain.

The long answer: Arizona requires that general contractors send preliminary notice to the owner and construction lender. Subcontractors and material suppliers are required to deliver notice to the owner, the prime contractor, and the construction lender. Arizona also requires that the 20 Day Preliminary Notice be sent to any party with whom you have contracted.

Keep in mind:

  • Essentially, best practice in Arizona is to send preliminary notice to everyone up the project hiring chain from you. (For example, if you are a subcontractor, the GC and owner would be considered “up the hiring chain” from you.)
  • According to the Arizona lien statute, laborers working for wages are not required to send a preliminary notice (see section 4B of Arizona’s mechanics lien statute).

WHAT Is Included in an Arizona Preliminary Notice?

The short answerAll the details.

The long answer: In Arizona, the preliminary notice must state an estimated total contract amount, a description of the labor, and/or materials provided, the address of the property, the party who hired the claimant, and identification of the property owner. 

WHEN Do I Send a 20-Day Preliminary Notice?

The short answer: Within 20 days of first furnishing labor and/or materials.

The long answer: Arizona requires that preliminary notice must be filed within 20 days of first furnishing labor or materials in order to fully maintain lien rights. If you send your preliminary notice more than 20 days after you begin work on a project, the notice only protects lien rights for the preceding 20 days. For example, if you send a preliminary notice on Day 30, you cannot file a lien for any labor or materials provided on Days 1 through 10, but you are good to go from Day 11 to the end of the project. That’s good news for Arizona claimant considering late notice can be fatal in other states.

The best thing to do is to make a habit of sending a preliminary notice as soon as work commences. Hopefully, no claim will be necessary. Of course, it’s best to keep lien rights intact. Just in case.

Keep in mind:

  • Best practice is to send preliminary notice as soon as you commence work.
  • Better late than never! It is much better to maintain lien rights for recent work than for no work at all.
  • The preliminary notice must be sent within the 20-day notice period, and actual delivery is not required within the period. The requirement is considered met if properly sent within the period.

HOW Do I Send a Preliminary Notice in Arizona?

The short answer: Mail it, and make sure it gets into the right hands.

The long answer: An Arizona 20 Day Preliminary Notice must be delivered by registered or certified mail, and the sender must obtain a certificate of mailing, receipt of registration, or receipt of certification. Arizona also requires proof that the notice was given. This means you need acknowledgment of receipt either by A) signature of the person receiving the notice, or B) by “Affidavit of Proof of Service.” Affidavits are generally used if the person to whom the notice was sent fails to complete an acknowledgment within 30 days. The affidavit should be accompanied by the certificate of mailing or by the receipt of certification or registration as proof that the notice was sent.

Keep in mind:


Arizona Mechanics Lien Guide Download CTA

Takeaway

First and foremost, preliminary notice provides the communication necessary to create a healthy project. These notices illuminate the payment chain and make sure that everyone understands your relationship to the overall project.

Plus, if notice isn’t sent, parties could possibly lose lien rights. And that’s a bigger deal than it seems. No one walks into a project wanting to file a lien, but preserving lien rights goes beyond that. The mere right to file a lien is huge – preserving it puts you at the front of the line when it comes to payment. Plus, if that payment doesn’t come, that right to lien can be leveraged without ever actually filing a lien. In a worst-case scenario, the ability to file a lien is invaluable security.

Summary
Arizona 20 Day Preliminary Notice: The Why, Who, What, When, and How
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Arizona 20 Day Preliminary Notice: The Why, Who, What, When, and How
Description
Learn everything construction contractors need to know about the Arizona 20 day preliminary notice including why it's important, who must send the notice and to whom, what the notice form must contain, when the notice must be sent, and how to send it.
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zlien
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Last Updated on Jan 09, 2019
Published on Jul 03, 2018

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Wynton Yates is a Legal Intern at zlien. Currently attending Loyola Law School in New Orleans, Wynton looks forward to graduating in 2020. Before joining the zlien team, Wynton was a television news reporter who often covered some of the nation's biggest stories. Wynton once played golf at Augusta National but refuses to reveal his score.

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