Lien rights exist in all 50 states to help contractors, suppliers, and other parties who work on construction projects get paid. There is always risk associated with performing work on credit, but lien rights provide security. Every state has their own construction laws that establish notice requirements you need to follow to protect your lien rights. This includes important deadlines to send notices and file the lien. Read on for more information about the requirements, and download free Lien & Notice Deadline Charts to pinpoint your deadline.
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Is Notice Required To Protect Your Lien Rights?
In most states, the mechanics lien process involves four steps:
- Send Preliminary Notice
- Send Notice of Intent
- File a Mechanics Lien
- Enforce the Lien
In most cases, there are strict deadlines for performing each of these actions. As a result, failing to send a required notice in time or missing the deadline to file a lien can invalidate a mechanics lien claim.
To make it even more confusing, deadlines vary from one state to the next and depending on project role.
Lien & Notice Deadlines by Project Role
Download lien notice and filing deadline charts that cover lien and notice deadlines for specific project roles all 50 states:
- Prime contractors (i.e. original contractor)
- Equipment lessors
- Materialmen / material suppliers
Note that these charts provide a general overview. To find more information about your states deadlines and requirements, visit our mechanics lien main page and select your state.
(Looking for deadlines for public projects? See Bond Claim Deadlines in All 50 States.)
State deadlines for sending notices & filing liens
Sending Preliminary Notice
Most states require that construction parties send preliminary notice in order to secure the right to file a lien. These notices inform the property owner and general contractor of the sender’s involvement on a project, which helps provide transparency on the job. Ultimately, sending preliminary notice is important on every job, even if your state doesn’t require it.
Preliminary notices are typically sent shortly after work on a project begins. These notices go by different names in different states, including Notice to Owner, Notice of Furnishing, pre-lien, and more. Some states have lien laws that set out complicated notice requirements. For example, Texas requires contractors to send monthly notices on the 15th day of the second month, as well as third month notices.
Sending Notice of Intent
Sending notice of intent to lien (NTO) is only required in a handful of states, but it can be incredibly beneficial even when not required. This document serves as a final warning before a lien is filed, and because property owners often want to avoid dealing with a mechanics lien on their property, NTOs are often effective at getting the payment ball rolling.
Notices of intent are frequently sent shortly (usually a few weeks) before a lien is filed.
Filing a Mechanics Lien
Typically, lien claimants are required to record their mechanics lien with the county where the property is located. A lien makes a claim on the title of the improved real property, which serves as collateral until the claimant is paid.
The deadline for filing a lien varies between states, but in most cases, the timeframe is 3 months to a year after work on a project is completed. However, the lien deadline can be shorter if the property owner or GC takes specific action, such as filing a Notice of Completion.
Enforcing the Lien
The deadline for enforcing a lien varies, but in most cases, the timeline is 6 months to 2 years.