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Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>We just recently discovered that there is more than one owner of a property that we are working on. If we had sent out a pre lien notice and did not include the other owner for the property can we still lien the job anyway

We just recently discovered that there is more than one owner of a property that we are working on. If we had sent out a pre lien notice and did not include the other owner for the property can we still lien the job anyway

CaliforniaPreliminary Notice

We have been working on a private job (residential) since last year. We are the sub-contractor and have a contract with the General Contractor. Even though we always submit the bill to the GC, the owner has paid us directly. As far as we know there was no other owner for the property, we were never given information stating that there were other owners and the owner we know of is the only person that has shown up on the job. We never pre liened the job from the beginning, as we have known the GC for a long time and the work is for a friend of the GC. The GC was fired off the job, at the time he was fired we were owed $10,800.00 for work and material. The owner wants new contracts with the all the subs directly and is refusing to pay. So we pre liened the job, mailing out on 10/20/2018 for all the work due from 10/02/2018 which is covered by our last invoice. Is the pre-lien still valid if we had not been given all the correct information to begin with? We sent the Pre-lien to the Owner that we had, and the GC mailed certified return receipt. The GC returned and signed his however the Owner has refused delivery.

1 reply

Nov 13, 2018
I'm sorry to hear about that. First, it's worth noting that when a party has contracted directly with the property owner, that party does not need to send preliminary notice to anyone other than the lender (if one is present). Granted, when a party starts out as a sub then transfers into a direct contractor's role, the work performed as a subcontractor should be noticed. Further, as you may already know, notice sent later than 20 days after first furnishing labor and/or materials will only preserve the right to lien for the prior 20 days of work. As for the notice requirements, the California Civil Code requires that preliminary notice be given to "The owner or reputed owner." under § 8200(a)(1). Thus, there's some room for error built in. While not explicitly defined in this section of the California Civil Code, the term "reputed owner" typically refers to situations where the owner is believed to be one party, but might actually be another. Thus, when notice is given to only one owner when there may be more than one, if the sender believed that the recipient to be the sole true owner and sent them notice in good faith, it's possible that notice could be effective to preserve lien rights. Further, this argument could potentially be strengthened if one owner was sent notice as required. Of course, notice requirements should always be strictly followed, and when they aren't, there's always a chance that notice might later be deemed invalid. Finally, in California, as long as notice was mailed as required, notice is generally considered effective when sent.
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