Arizona Notice of Completion FAQs

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Notice of Completion: Arizona

The sheer volume of documents that the construction industry requires can make your head spin. There is a document for almost everything that happens on a construction site. But, for the most part, these required documents are pretty standard across the country, though they might go by different names. One document that’s not so standard? Arizona’s Notice of Completion.

Arizona, along with just a handful of other states, provides project owners with a mechanism to shorten the amount of time contractors and sub have to file a mechanics lien. This mechanism is a “notice of completion,” and Arizona contractors need to understand what it is and how it works. 

What is a notice of completion in Arizona?

A notice of completion is a document that an Arizona project owner or higher-tier contractor can file to mark the end of a construction project. The filing party needs to wait until the project is absolutely complete and then file the notice of completion with the county clerk governing the project’s address.

When the project owner files a notice of completion, it has significant implications for the parties working on the project. In fact, the deadline that contractors have to file a mechanics lien shortens — by a lot. By half, in fact.

When a project owner doesn’t file a notice of completion, the Arizona mechanics lien deadline is 120 days from completing the project. If that’s confusing, understand that project owners do not have to file a notice of completion. Should the owner choose not to file, the standard mechanics lien deadline stands. But, if they do file a notice of completion, the deadline is only 60 days from the date such notice was filed, not even from the date the contractor became aware

This means that if a contractor, sub, or supplier is still waiting for payment, they’re going to need to get on their horse and file a mechanics lien sooner rather than later. Luckily, the notice of completion doesn’t affect the amount of time a contractor has to enforce a mechanics lien. 

Be sure to read the following section to understand all of the implications, as well as what you can do to prevent being blindsided by a notice of completion.

Learn more: What’s a Notice of Completion, and Why Is it important?

Protecting yourself from a notice of completion

The implications of a notice of completion might sound scary, and indeed they are if you aren’t protecting your payments. But, if you’re playing by Arizona’s rules for protecting your payments, a notice of completion will be much less scary. Yes, the window to file a lien shortens significantly, but the owner must notify the contractors who sent preliminary notices. Plus, Arizona requires contractors to send those notices within 20 days to maintain lien rights.

You can also protect yourself by being more proactive with your lien rights. If you’re waiting for payment, you’re asking for trouble. You don’t have to wait until the job is complete to make a move. Filing a mechanics lien is the fastest way to get paid, which could help avoid the scramble a notice of completion causes altogether.

Arizona Notice of Completion FAQs

There is a lot of information to digest about notices of completion in Arizona, so a Q&A-style breakdown might be the easiest to follow. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about Arizona’s notice of completion rules, requirements, and implications.

For Property Owners & Contractors

Is a notice of completion required in Arizona?

No, a notice of completion is not a requirement in Arizona. But, with the chance of limiting lien liability on their project, why would an owner want to file a notice of completion?

If a project owner files a notice of completion and an unpaid contractor doesn’t assert their lien rights, once the deadline passes, the contractor is out of luck. They might be able to pursue the GC or owner in court, but that’s a long, drawn-out, expensive process — unlike filing a mechanics lien.

How does a notice of completion affect a construction project in Arizona?

A notice of completion has a massive implication on a construction project in Arizona, as it effectively halves the amount of time contractors have to file a mechanics lien.

In Arizona, the standard deadline for filing a mechanics lien is 120 days from the date that the project is complete — if the project owner or GC doesn’t file a notice of completion. If one of those parties does file a notice of completion, the deadline to file a mechanics lien shortens to just 60 days from the date that the notice of completion was filed, not the date the contractor became aware.

Considering that project owners have up to 15 days to inform affected parties of the notice’s filing, the realistic window for filing a mechanics lien could be as short as 45 days. Assuming that project participants protected their lien rights with preliminary notices, a notice of completion can send everyone on the project scrambling to file their liens.

Who needs to file a notice of completion in Arizona?

While the notice of completion can throw a massive wrench in the works for unpaid contractors, subs, and suppliers, the rules about its employment are relatively simple.

Only the project owner, the owner’s agent, or the general contractor on the project is able to file a valid notice of completion on the project.

Where is a notice of completion filed?

As with most construction documents concerning lien rights, an Arizona project owner needs to file their notice of completion with the office of the county clerk presiding over the project’s address. It doesn’t matter where the project owner lives or where the general contractor’s business address is. All that matters is the address of the project. 

Luckily, all the county clerk offices in Arizona provide e-recording on their websites:

How do I find out if a notice of completion was filed?

It might seem like Arizona really gave project owners and GCs the upper hand here. After all, it appears the state is giving these contracted parties the ability to sneak out of their obligations.

But, that’s not the case. It’s easy to find out if the owner filed a notice of completion they have to tell you.

Arizona project owners have up to 15 days to send notice to every contractor that sent a preliminary notice on the project. And, since Arizona requires contractors to send a preliminary notice to protect their lien rights, project owners should have to notify everyone on the job.

If the owner doesn’t make one of those contractors aware, then that contractor still retains their 120-day right to file a mechanics lien.

What happens if a notice of completion isn’t filed?

Project owners and general contractors aren’t required to file a notice of completion at the end of their projects in Arizona. They do have the right, but it isn’t a requirement.

If a project owner or GC chooses not to file a notice of completion, the window to file a mechanics lien remains the Arizona standard 120-day mark. Note, that’s 120 days from completion, not 120 days from last furnishing.

For example, the concrete sub that poured just the foundation upon the project’s outset could retain their rights for far longer than 120 days. The project has to be complete.

What if the project isn’t complete when the notice of completion is filed?

Believe it or not, some project owners might attempt to file a notice of completion before the project is actually complete in an effort to thwart mechanics lien filings.

But the notice of completion is just what it says — a form that states the job is done. Every outlet cover plate, every piece of molding, and every brushstroke of paint detailed in the contract needs to be complete for the notice to be valid.

If a project owner files a notice of completion before the project is 100 percent complete, the notice is, in theory, invalid. But, unless it’s your portion of the project that needs finishing, this point can be tough to prove.

For that reason, it’s best to file a mechanics lien as soon as you suspect that there could be an issue

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Arizona Notice of Completion Form

This Arizona Notice of Completion form is generally recorded at the completion of work on a construction project. Once filed, a copy of the Notice of...

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Arizona Notice of Completion Statutes

The provision of the Arizona statutes that permit the filing of Notice of Completion can be found under Arizona Revised Statute §33-993 and is reproduced below.

AZ Notice of Completion

§ 33-993. Procedure to perfect lien; notice and claim of lien; service; recording; definitions

A. In order to impress and secure the lien provided for in this article, every person claiming the benefits of this article, within one hundred twenty days after completion of a building, structure or improvement, or any alteration or repair of such building, structure or improvement, or if a notice of completion has been recorded, within sixty days after recordation of such notice, shall make duplicate copies of a notice and claim of lien and record one copy with the county recorder of the county in which the property or some part of the property is located, and within a reasonable time thereafter serve the remaining copy upon the owner of the building, structure or improvement, if he can be found within the county. The notice and claim of lien shall be made under oath by the claimant or someone with knowledge of the facts and shall contain:

1. The legal description of the lands and improvements to be charged with a lien.

2. The name of the owner or reputed owner of the property concerned, if known, and the name of the person by whom the lienor was employed or to whom he furnished materials.

3. A statement of the terms, time given and conditions of the contract, if it is oral, or a copy of the contract, if it is written.

4. A statement of the lienor’s demand, after deducting just credits and offsets.

5. A statement of the date of completion of the building, structure or improvement, or any alteration or repair of such building, structure or improvement.

6. A statement of the date the preliminary twenty day notice required by section 33-992.01 was given. A copy of such preliminary twenty day notice and the proof of mailing required by section 33-992.02 shall be attached.

B. For purposes of this section, if a work of improvement consists of the construction for residential occupancy of more than one separate building without regard to whether the buildings are constructed pursuant to separate contracts or a single contract, each building is a separate work and the time within which to perfect a lien by recording the notice of lien pursuant to subsection A of this section commences to run on the completion of each separate building. For purposes of this subsection, “separate building” means one structure of a work of improvement and any garages or other appurtenant buildings in a multibuilding residential project or residential subdivision.

C. For the purposes of subsection A of this section, “completion” means the earliest of the following events:

1. Thirty days after final inspection and written final acceptance by the governmental body which issued the building permit for the building, structure or improvement.

2. Cessation of labor for a period of sixty consecutive days, except when such cessation of labor is due to a strike, shortage of materials or act of God.

D. If no building permit is issued or if the governmental body that issued the building permit for the building, structure or improvement does not issue final inspections and written final acceptances, then “completion” for the purposes of subsection A of this section means the last date on which any labor, materials, fixtures or tools were furnished to the property.

E. For the purposes of this section, “notice of completion” means a written notice which the owner or its agent may elect to record at any time after completion of construction as defined in subsection C of this section for the purpose of shortening the lien period, as provided in subsection A of this section. A notice of completion shall be signed and verified by the owner or its agent and shall contain the following information:

1. The name and address of the owner.

2. The nature of the interest or estate of the owner.

3. The legal description of the jobsite and the street address. The validity of the notice is not affected by the fact that the street address recited is erroneous or that such street address is omitted.

4. The name of the original contractor, if any.

5. The names and addresses of any predecessors in interest if the property was transferred after the beginning of the work or improvement.

6. The nature of the improvements to the real property.

F. The notice of completion shall follow substantially the following form:

Notice of Completion

Notice is hereby given that:

1. The undersigned is owner of the interest or estate stated below in the property hereinafter described, or the undersigned is the owner’s agent.

2. The full name of the undersigned is _______________.

3. The full address of the undersigned is _______________ ______________________________________________________.

4. The nature of the interest or estate of the owner is: in fee. _________________________________ (If other than fee, strike “In Fee” and insert, for example, “Purchaser Under Contract of Purchase” or “Lessee”.)

5. The full names and full addresses of all persons, if any, who hold interest or estate with the undersigned such as joint tenants or tenants in common are:

Name Address

______________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________

6. The full names and full addresses of the predecessors in interest of the undersigned, if the property was transferred after the beginning of the work or improvement:

Name Address

______________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________

7. The nature of the improvements to the real property ______________________________________________________.

8. The work of improvement on the property hereinafter described was completed in accordance with the definition of completion in Arizona Revised Statutes section 33-993, subsection C. (Fill in the appropriate completion date as defined in Arizona Revised Statutes section 33-993, subsection C.)

(a) – Date _____________________________________________

(thirty days after written final acceptance

by governmental body)

(b) – Date _____________________________________________

(sixty days after cessation of labor)

9. The name of the original contractor, if any, for such work or improvement is _______________________________________.

(if no contractor, insert “none”)

10. The street address of the property is ____________ _______________________________________________________________

(include both address and city with zip code)

11. The legal description of property described above _______________________________________________________________

(attach exhibit if necessary)

Verification

I, the undersigned, certify that I am the owner, the owner’s agent for the property or another interested party in the property, described in the above notice, or I certify that I am the original contractor of the improvements to the real property described in the above notice. I have read the foregoing notice and know and understand the contents thereof, and the facts stated therein are true and correct. I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.

Executed on ______________ at _____________________, Arizona.

(date) (place where signed)

____________________________

(print name)

____________________________

(personal signature)

____________________________

(title)

(Acknowledgement)

Each notice of completion shall contain the following language in type at least as large as the largest type that otherwise appears on the document:

In order to shorten the lien period pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes section 33-993, subsection A, a copy of the notice of completion and a written statement of the date of recording and the county recorder’s record location information shall be served by certified or registered mail, postage prepaid, to the owner, the original contractor and all persons from whom the person recording this notice has previously received a preliminary twenty day notice as prescribed by Arizona Revised Statutes section 33-993, subsection I.

Notice: Receipt of a notice of completion may alter the time you have to impress and secure a lien in accordance with Arizona Revised Statutes section 33-993, subsection A.

G. If there is more than one owner, any notice of completion signed by less than all such owners shall recite the name and address of all such owners. If the notice of completion is signed by a successor in interest, it shall recite the names and addresses of his transferor or transferors.

H. A notice of completion shall be recorded in the office of the county recorder of the county in which the property or some part of the property is located. The county recorder of the county in which the notice of completion is recorded shall index the notice of completion under the index classification in which mechanics’ and materialmen’s liens are recorded.

I. If a notice of completion has been recorded, the person recording the notice, within fifteen days of recording, shall mail by certified or registered mail postage prepaid a copy of the notice of completion and a written statement of the date of recording and the county recorder’s record location information to the original contractor and all persons from whom the owner has previously received a preliminary twenty day notice. In the event the owner or its agent fails to mail a copy of the notice of completion and a written statement of the date of recording and the county recorder’s record location information within fifteen days of recording to any person from whom the owner has received a preliminary twenty day notice, such person shall have one hundred twenty days from completion as defined in section 33-993 to impress and secure the lien provided for in this article.

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