Bond claims, like mechanic’s liens, have requirements that vary from state to state. Whether or not preliminary notice is required, who must receive preliminary notice or the claim itself, and even if a formal claim is required prior to initiating a lawsuit to recover can all change depending on the state in which the project is located. One of the biggest formal differences between a bond claim and a mechanic’s lien claim, is that actually filing a mechanic’s lien against the property is always necessary prior to being able to initiate a suit to foreclose on that mechanic’s lien.
Since a bond claim does not attach to or encumber the actual property on which work is being performed, the claim is not a document that needs to be recorded in the land records – it is served on, or filed with, parties to the construction project (i.e. the public entity in charge, or the prime contractor that supplied the bond). It is not always required, however, any notice or actual claim be given prior to the claimant initiating a lawsuit to recover the money owed, however. In that case, the “bond claim” is basically like any other lawsuit for non-payment – just with the security that there is actually money to go after – in the form of the bond.
But, in the states where a formal notice of claim is not required, is there any reason to provide parties with a formal bond claim anyway?
Short Answer: Yes.
Longer Answer: There is really not much of a downside in sending a formal bond claim, and the upside is potentially large. By sending a formal bond claim to the surety, (and general contractor) the claimant may be able to initiate payment without the expense of beginning a lawsuit. At the very least, the bond claim will provide notice that the claimant is unpaid and a lawsuit will be forthcoming. This could result in pressure to the prime (or hiring party) to pay, or, provided the proper information was sent to the surety it can jump-start the claim process. In my opinion, wherever there is a chance of getting paid without the necessity of filing and prosecuting a lawsuit that’s not an opportunity to be squandered.