The New Hampshire preliminary notice process on private construction projects is particularly unique. Although not technically required to secure the right to file a mechanics lien, failing to send one (or sending one late) can severely impact the amount that can be recovered. This guide will break down all the rules and requirements you need to know, to secure mechanics lien rights through a New Hampshire preliminary notice.
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New Hampshire preliminary notices
There are essentially two types of preliminary notices that may be required under New Hampshire lien law. The first is the more traditional type of preliminary notice, known in New Hampshire as a Notice of Intention to Claim a Lien. The other is a recurring monthly notice which provides an account of all labor or materials provided during the preceding 30 days.
Notice of Intent to Claim a Lien
Sending a Notice of Intent to Claim a Lien is the first step to securing the ability to file a mechanics lien in the state of New Hampshire. New Hampshire provides mechanics lien rights to most project participants; the most remote being sub-subcontractors. This notice must be sent by every party who did not have a direct contract with the property owner before providing any labor or materials to the project.
There are no specific statutory requirements of what information needs to be included in this notice. It’s recommended that some of these essential pieces of information that should be provided. It should identify the project/property address, the claimant’s information, the hiring party’s information, the date the contract was signed, and a short statement declaring that the claimant intends to assert their mechanics lien rights under N.H. R.S.A. Chapter 447.
As far as how this notice should be sent, the statute is also unclear. However, documentation is crucial if there is an eventual dispute over nonpayment. To ensure that you have a record of the mailing, sending this notice by certified or registered mail with return receipt requested is the best bet.
Effect of late notice
Failing to send this notice won’t destroy the ability to file a mechanics lien. However, it will impact the amount that can be recoverable. In the state of New Hampshire, the amount of mechanics lien rights secured depends on when the notice was received by the property owner. A late notice is still effective, but the claim will be limited to the amount the owner has yet to pay the person the subcontractor was hired by.
Therefore, the later the notice is sent, the less likely you will be able to recover the full amount. If the owner has already paid the GC in full, the subcontractor may have to resort to other means of recovery besides a mechanics lien.
Recurring monthly notice
This second type of notice required by the New Hampshire preliminary notice rules isn’t really a “notice.” Rather, it is an account of what labor and materials are being provided to the project. If the preliminary notice was sent, then the lienor must send this account every 30 days.
It should summarize what has been provided in the preceding 30 days, along with the current balance due. Sending a copy of an itemized invoice will probably suffice. Once received by the property owner, they are required to retain a sufficient sum of money to pay such a claim should it arise. The owner will then be liable to pay that amount unless the notifying subcontractor or material supplier is subsequently paid the hiring party.
The New Hampshire preliminary notice requirements are pretty straightforward. As it was mentioned above, these notices are not required to secure mechanics lien rights. However, it will maximize the amount of payment that can be recovered. No one walks on to a project expecting payment problems. But, it’s always important to protect yourself as much as possible, to ensure you get paid what you’ve earned.