What is a Notice to Owner?
Notice to Owner (NTO) is a document that protects the right to file a mechanics lien for people and businesses that provide materials or labor to a construction or renovation project. This group includes equipment lessors, building material suppliers, sub-subcontractors, subcontractors, architecture and engineering firms, and direct contractors.
VERSIONS OF NOTICE TO OWNER
The name Notice to Owner is sometimes used interchangeably with other construction documents that contractors and suppliers send when beginning work to protect mechanics lien rights. These other documents include:
- Preliminary Notice
- Pre Lien Notice
- Notice to Contractor
- Notice of Furnishing
Thirteen states specifically refer to documents by the name “Notice to Owner” in their mechanics lien laws. Note, however, that these documents, and the rules that surround them, are almost never the same. For example, while Arkansas and Florida both require this notice, the contents of the document and the deadline to send the notice are different in each state. Furthermore, some states lay out exactly what a notice to owner should say, while others provide only a loose description of what should be included in the document.
The following states include the phrase Notice To Owner in their lien statutes:
STATES THAT REQUIRE NOTICE TO OWNER
34 states require contractors or suppliers to send some version of the notice at or near the beginning of work on a construction project. This is most often required of subcontractors and material suppliers. Fewer states require direct contractors (general contractors) to give notice. When it is required do, the type of notice is often different from that required of subcontractors and suppliers.
The following states require subcontractors and material suppliers to send a notice to owner (or a version of it) on almost all private construction projects:
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
Why send a Notice to Owner?
Notice to Owner (NTO) is a type of construction document that contractors and material suppliers send so they don’t lose their right to file a mechanics lien.
NOTICE OF INTENT TO LIEN
Some states may require sending a Notice of Intent to Lien (NOI) in addition to (or instead of) a NTO. NOIs are a warning that one might file a lien, and are usually sent after completion of work, but before filing a mechanics lien.