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Can I file a prelien on a residential property?

MinnesotaPreliminary Notice

I was hired by a residential building contractor to drywall his personal house and I need to file a pre lien. I started the work on July 23, 2018.

1 reply

Aug 30, 2018
That's a good question. First, let's settle some vernacular so we can be on the same page. Often, "pre-lien" refers to the preliminary notice or "pre-lien" notice sent at the start of a job. Other parties may consider a Notice of Intent to Lien a "pre-lien". Neither a preliminary notice nor a Notice of Intent is actually filed on a property - rather, these documents are sent via mail. Anyway, for parties who have contracted directly with a property owner, preliminary notice may be required. Specifically, every person who enters into a contract with the owner of the improvement who has contractor or will contract with any subcontractors or material suppliers must provide notice. When required, this notice will typically be included in the written contract with the owner. If the notice is not included in the contract, it must be prepared separately and delivered either by hand or by certified mail within 10 days of contracting for the project. Failure to provide the notice will result in the loss of lien rights unless an exception applies, and the following is a brief breakdown of those exceptions: (a) A contractor who is also the owner need not provide notice to themselves; (b) the property consists of four or more residential units; (c) mixed-use, non-agricultural property. It's worth noting, though, that the timeline for a subcontractor to provide notice is more relaxed. A subcontractor's preliminary notice must only be sent within 45 days after the lien claimant has first furnished labor, skill or materials for the improvement. So, in a situation where a contractor is also the property owner, there's a chance (albeit, an unlikely one) that a party who has contracted with the contractor might be considered a subcontractor in the eyes of the law, thus delaying the deadline to send preliminary notice. Finally, if a "pre-lien" is meant to refer to a Notice of Intent to Lien, that's a different story. A Notice of Intent to Lien may be sent at any time because it is not a required notice in Minnesota. This notice states that, if payment is not made, a lien will be filed. Despite it not being a required notice, it can be a very effective one to compel payment when payments look like they will be coming too slowly or not coming at all. Regardless of whether you were referring to a notice or to a Notice of Intent to Lien - both may be sent on residential property. For more information on Minnesota lien and notice law, try out zlien's Minnesota Lien and Notice FAQ. If you're looking to send a preliminary notice through the zlien platform, you can do so via the zlien Document Navigator.
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