Joint Checks: Everything You Need to Know

Joint checks are an essential tool in various collaborative projects, ensuring payments are made to the right parties and reducing the risk of disputes. These checks are issued to more than one person, typically a subcontractor and a material supplier, to ensure both parties receive their due payments. This process secures the supplier’s payment and helps the general contractor or project owner by preventing disruptions caused by unpaid suppliers. In this blog, we’ll delve deeper into the mechanics of joint checks, their benefits, and best practices for their use.

If you have questions about how joint checks can benefit your projects or need assistance with payment rights and notices, contact CNS Lien today at 800-366-5660.

Understanding Joint Checks

A joint check is issued as a payment for services rendered or materials supplied. For example, if a subcontractor performs work and purchases materials from a supplier, the general contractor can issue a joint check payable to both the subcontractor and the supplier. This ensures the supplier receives payment directly, reducing the risk of non-payment and subsequent payment disputes. 

Similarly, a subcontractor can request that the owner write a joint check to the general contractor, including the subcontractor on the check, ensuring the general contractor doesn’t use the payment intended for the subcontractor for other expenses. This process significantly reduces the general contractor’s risk of having unpaid suppliers causing project delays or additional costs.

Benefits of Joint Checks

  1. Protects Suppliers and Subcontractors
    • For suppliers, a joint check agreement is a guarantee of payment. Since the check is made out to both the subcontractor and the supplier, the supplier is assured of receiving payment for the materials supplied. This assurance can make suppliers more willing to extend credit or offer better terms to subcontractors.
    • Subcontractors also benefit from joint checks as they can request the owner to issue joint checks to the general contractor, including the subcontractor on the check. This ensures the subcontractor receives their due payment, reducing the risk of the general contractor using the funds for other purposes.

2. Reduces Risk for General Contractors

General contractors often have limited visibility into the financial dealings between their subcontractors and suppliers. By issuing joint checks, they can ensure that payments intended for materials are used appropriately, reducing the risk of project disruptions due to unpaid suppliers.

3. Facilitates Smooth Project Progress

Joint checks help maintain good relationships among all parties involved in a project. Suppliers are more confident in extending credit, subcontractors can secure necessary materials without financial strain, and general contractors can avoid delays caused by payment disputes. This contributes to smoother project execution and completion.

Best Practices for Using Joint Checks

1. Clear Agreements

Before issuing joint checks, it’s important to have clear agreements in place. This includes understanding the amount due to the supplier and ensuring that all parties agree on the payment terms. Written agreements can help prevent misunderstandings and ensure that everyone knows their responsibilities.

2. Accurate Payment Amounts

Ensure that the joint check covers the correct amount owed to the supplier. This requires good communication between the general contractor, subcontractor, and supplier to verify the amount due. Accurate payments prevent disputes and ensure that suppliers are paid in full.

3. Timely Issuance

Joint checks should be issued promptly to maintain trust and good relationships. Timely payments help suppliers manage their cash flow and keep the project moving forward without unnecessary delays. For general contractors, prompt issuance of joint checks ensures that subcontractors and suppliers remain confident in the payment process, which can lead to more favorable terms and a willingness to work on future projects. 

Subcontractors, in particular, benefit from timely joint checks as it provides them with assurance of payment even if they are not fully aware of the general contractor’s financial dealings. Having the owner issue joint checks to the general contractor, including the subcontractor on the check, helps relieve uncertainty of payment for all downstream contractors. This proactive approach fosters a positive working environment and reduces the risk of payment-related disputes, ensuring smoother project progression.

4. Record Keeping

Maintaining detailed records of all joint check transactions is crucial. This includes keeping copies of the checks, invoices, and any related correspondence. Good record-keeping practices help track payments and resolve any issues that may arise.

5. Communication

Open and transparent communication between all parties is key. Regular updates and confirmations about payment statuses help ensure that everyone is on the same page and that payments are processed smoothly.

Simplify Joint Checks with CNS

Joint checks are a valuable tool in collaborative projects, providing a secure method for ensuring that all parties receive their due payments. By reducing the risk of non-payment and fostering good relationships among subcontractors, suppliers, and general contractors, joint checks contribute to the successful and timely completion of projects. Implementing best practices for joint check issuance can further enhance their effectiveness, making them an integral part of financial management in collaborative work.

CNS can add joint-check language to your prelim notice. This will notify the general contractor and property owner that you’d like to be paid via a joint check. Our experienced team is here to help you navigate the complexities of payments and ensure your projects run smoothly. Call us at 800-366-5660 or visit our website to learn more about our services.

Disclaimer: CNS is not an attorney, and if you need legal advice, please contact one.