Preliminary notices help contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers get noticed and secure their right to payment. They are a critical step before being able to file a mechanics lien and have specific requirements and deadlines that must be met.
However, sometimes deadlines are missed, leading to concerns about whether it’s still possible to send a late preliminary notice. The short answer is yes, but it varies depending on the state you’re working in.
In this article, we’ll explore states with flexible and hard deadlines and what to do in each case.
States with Flexible Deadlines
Certain states have specific deadlines for sending preliminary notices, but missing them doesn’t always mean you lose all your lien rights. These states can still offer some level of protection. For example, California and Arizona have 20-day preliminary notices. That means the notice is most effective if sent within the first 20 days on a job.
Let’s say your first day on the job or supplying materials was May 1. Your timeframe to send a preliminary notice, which protects your whole job, would be May 21. However, if you sent the notice late on May 26 (20 days prior to May 26 is May 6), then the preliminary notice would protect your ability to claim a mechanics lien for materials and/or labor from May 6 through completion of the project. Since the pre-lien was sent late, you’d lose the ability to record a lien on the property for the work done on the first 5 days of the job.
Because the level of protection decreases as time goes on after you’ve missed the deadline, it’s important to send the notice as soon as possible. The protection you receive may be limited, but it’s still better than not having any lien rights at all.
States with Hard Deadlines
Several states, such as Oregon, have strict and inflexible preliminary notice deadlines. Missing these deadlines could result in the loss of your lien rights altogether, so it’s critical to be aware of and adhere to these specific deadlines.
However, even if you no longer have valid lien rights, sending a late preliminary notice can still benefit you and is highly recommended. Preliminary notices serve many purposes, such as notifying the GC and property owner of your involvement in the project and that you must be paid. This visibility can greatly reduce your likelihood of experiencing slow, short, or no pay.
Preliminary Notice Services with CNS
Sending a preliminary notice is a critical step for contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers to protect their payment rights. While missing a deadline can be concerning, the options available vary depending on the state you’re working in. Different states have different time frames. For example, in Arizona and California, you have 20 days from the start of the project to send a prelim. In Nevada, you have 31 days; in Oregon, 8 business days; and in Washington, 60 days from the start of the project or as little as 10 days depending on the project type.
Regardless, the key takeaway is that sending the notice as soon as possible is always the best course of action. At CNS, we provide preliminary services for various states, including California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, and Florida.
Contact us today if you need help determining your state’s timeframes or to get a prelim started.
Prefer to call? You can reach us at 800-366-5660.
Disclaimer: CNS is not an attorney, and if you need legal advice, please contact one.