I'm archiving old preliminary notice records dated as far back as 2011 and I just am curious if I need to keep these records or can I have them thrown away and shredded.
Jan 25, 2019
Good question. The California Civil Code does not set regulations on how long a preliminary notice must be held. However, there are some practical implications that come into play that might provide some clarity. Plus, for those sending notice keep in mind that electronically storing preliminary notices previously sent (along with proof that the notice was sent) is an option, too. Anyway - one of the more obvious natural cutoffs for when to keep or get rid of preliminary notice might be the completion of the project. Once a project has been closed out, final lien waivers have been submitted, and no payment disputes or issues remain - there's little need to hold onto a previously sent or received preliminary notice. Preliminary notices provide great benefits for project visibility and communication, and they preserve the right to later file a lien. Once the project is done, there's little need to establish visibility, and if all lien waivers have been compiled, there's no real need to have the original notice on hand, physically. A more conservative timeframe might be to hold onto preliminary notices until after the time to file a lien has passed. Again, preliminary notices preserve the right to lien (among other uses), so once there's no threat of a lien claim, it doesn't make all that much sense to hold on to original preliminary notices. Of course, the information on those notices could be valuable down the line for a variety of reasons, so there is potentially some value in holding onto the documents. However, for most uses I can think of, having an electronic copy of the preliminary notice should be sufficient. But again - holding onto preliminary notices until the job is complete makes a lot of sense, as does holding on to notices until all lien deadlines have passed. For more on the California lien and notice rules, this resource should help: California Lien & Notice FAQs.
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