Mechanics liens are the best way to protect your payments on a construction project. However, securing these rights involve strict compliance with the state’s formal notice and deadline requirements. For subcontractors, under Pennsylvania law, one critical step to the mechanics lien process is sending a notice of intent to lien. This article will break down everything you need to know about the Pennsylvania Notice of Intent to Lien.
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What is a notice of intent to lien?
A notice of intent (NOI) is a document sent by a potential lien claimant to inform the property owner that you have been unpaid. The purpose of this construction notice is to provide the owner with one final opportunity to resolve the payment dispute before filing a mechanics lien against their property.
NOIs are typically quite effective to induce payment before having to spend the time and money to file a mechanics lien to get paid. This is true whether an NOI is actually required under your state mechanics lien laws or not. The state of Pennsylvania is just one of a handful of states that do require a notice of intent to be sent prior to filing under Pennsylvania’s mechanics lien laws.
Pennsylvania Notice of Intent to Lien
All potential claimants who didn’t contract directly with the property owner are required to send a Pennsylvania Notice of Intent to Lien before filing their mechanics lien claim with the prothonotary office. This means subcontractors, sub-subcontractors, and any material suppliers or equipment lessors that weren’t hired by the project owner. Only general contractors (aka prime contractors) are excluded from such notice requirements. These rules can be found under the lien statute 49 P.S. §1501: Formal notice by subcontractor as condition precedent.
No claim by a subcontractor, whether for erection or construction or for alterations or repairs, shall be valid unless, at least thirty (30) days before the same is filed, he shall have given to the owner a formal written notice of his intention to file a claim.
Now, don’t mistake a notice of intent for the traditional PA preliminary notice (the Notice of Furnishing). That notice is also typically required to be sent at the outset of the project. A notice of intent is also required. Also, one important thing to note is that if the labor or materials are provided to more than one business or residence, multiple NOIs will be required.
What information you’ll need
Obviously, the first step to sending a valid notice of intent in Pennsylvania is to include all the required information. This includes:
- Claimant’s information
- Hiring party’s information
- Amount of the claim
- General nature and character of labor and materials provided
- Last date of furnishing labor and materials
- Property description
Deadline to send a PA notice of intent to lien
A Pennsylvania notice of intent needs to be sent at least 30 days before filing your lien claim. So let’s crunch the numbers. The deadline to file a Pennsylvania mechanics lien is 6 months after the last date the claimant furnished labor or materials to the project. This gives you roughly 5 months from the last date of furnishing to get the notice in the hands of the property owner.
There’s no such thing as providing a PA notice of intent too soon. So if you’re experiencing payment problems on a project, go ahead and send your NOI as soon as possible. If the notice is sent later than 5 months, the claimant will completely lose their right to file a mechanics lien.
How to deliver a notice of intent
The notice can be sent to the owner by first-class, registered, or certified mail. It can also be served personally by a sheriff or private process server. But mailing is obviously the more prevalent choice, since it provides a record of delivery. Also, if service can’t be achieved by any of these methods, the claimant can post the notice in a conspicuous place on the job site. This notice is considered served when it is actually received. So you’ll need to leave yourself ample time to get this notice served properly.
Securing Pennsylvania mechanics lien rights
That’s essentially everything you’ll need to know about sending a Pennsylvania Notice of Intent to Lien. If you’ve sent your Pennsylvania NOI, this is typically enough to get you paid, since no one wants a lien filed on their property. But if it’s not enough to spur payment, it may be time to file your lien claim. For more information on the lien claim process in the Keystone State, see How to File a Pennsylvania Mechanics Lien | A Step-by-Step Guide to Get You Paid.