We did an electrical re-wire on a house. The homeowner made payments every few weeks along the way, then stopped making payments about a month before the job was finished. She does not have the funds to pay and is unresponsive. The work ended in May. Can I go ahead and serve the preliminary notice even though I have received partial payment before the job was finished. (The amount remaining is just under half of the total bill.)

4 months ago

I am the contractor. I hired an electrician to do the work.

Chief Legal Officer Levelset

Missouri, like most states has a preliminary notice requirement that must be complied with in order for a construction participant to retain lien rights. While the specific notice and deadline is different – all project participants generally have some notice requirement in Missouri.

Contractors who contract directly with the property owner are required to provide the property owner with a disclosure notice. This notice must be provided prior to receiving the first payment on the job.

Failure to provide the notice when required is absolutely fatal to a valid lien claim in Missouri. And it doesn’t stop there, while most often the notice is merely forgotten, if the failure to provide this notice was purposeful and with an intent to defraud, it is a class B misdemeanor.

However, in the event that lien rights are no longer available hope for recovery is not lost, however. There are other avenues that can provide ammunition for a lawsuit to recover payment. Breach of contract, failure to pay pursuant to Missouri prompt pay laws, and more, can all be used to seek payment.

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