Imagine this: You’ve done everything required or you to protect your lien rights. You checked the state requirements, set up a preliminary notice policy for your business, and sent notices to all the required recipients (and maybe even a couple more for good measure), all to protect yourself from payment problems.
You’re ready to sit back and relax, and then today’s mail comes and it contains a pile of returned notices you sent out weeks ago. Unclaimed, undeliverable, refused; seemingly none of the recipients actually received the notices you so carefully sent their way.
Unfortunately, this nightmare scenario is a very real occurrence for many in the construction business on a regular basis. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Read on to find out more.
Takes Steps Before You Send
The first steps you must take to avoid problems with returned mail come long before you stuff any envelopes. The requirements on how preliminary notices must be sent varies from state to state, but a good practice is to send it in a way that can be tracked and proven, such as by certified mail or even using a courier service.
You’ll also need to do some research to check the name and address you have is correct. Secretary of State websites typically list contact information for registered businesses and individual property owners can often be found through county assessor databases but depending on their location you may have to go to the actual assessor’s office in order to access this information.
Effective collaboration on a construction project starts with having good information. After all, if you’re going to collaborate with someone, at the very least you’re going to have to know how to get in touch with them! We’ve got a great resource to help you keep all of your project information straight – our Project Information Sheet template.
Click the button below to download your free copy.
Check the Mail
When certified mail is returned to the sender, it should come with an endorsement that will give you some idea of why it’s being returned. Most returned mail can be categorized one of two ways: either undeliverable or unclaimed.
The USPS may label a piece of mail undeliverable if they can’t locate the street name or number, if the postage is insufficient, or if the recipient moved and left no forwarding address. Most states don’t require you to get the notice into the recipient’s hands, but they do require that it is addressed properly. You should correct any defects in the mailing and resend it.
On the flip side, the mail may be deliverable but the recipient could fail to claim it, refuse to sign, or simply not have a mailbox or other receptacle. If this is the case, best practice is to send the notice again through first class mail or to post a copy of the notice at the jobsite.
Protecting yourself from little mistakes and showing that you put in the effort to get your notices delivered could ultimately be essential should you end up needing to enforce a lien claim. You can’t force someone to accept a piece of mail, and many states consider your obligation fulfilled once the mail has been properly sent, but showing that you took the extra steps to deliver notice can save you big bucks down the line.
As we’ve just discussed, there’s a lot more to mailing a construction notice than just dropping it into the nearest mailbox! We have a free resource to help you manage this important task – the Construction Notice Mailing Checklist, a quick, 2-page guide that includes tips on managing returned mail.