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What happens if the contractor provides incorrect address on contract so my preliminary notice doesn't get delivered to them?

CaliforniaPreliminary Notice

Am I still meeting my Preliminary Notice requirements in California if I send a preliminary notice to the general contractor, but they provided an incorrect address on the contract, so my notice does not get delivered to them? What would be my next steps if the preliminary notice comes back to me undeliverable?

1 reply

Jul 27, 2018
That's a common question, and luckily the California Civil Code covers a lot of situations that other lien statutes may not. Under § 8108 of the California Civil Code, a person providing notice to a prime contractor may give that notice at the recipient's residence, place of business, or at the following addresses: "the contractor’s address shown on the building permit, on the contractor’s contract, or on the records of the Contractors’ State License Board." So, sending notice to the location a contractor has provided as their address in the contract is acceptable. Further, in California, as long is notice is sent as required by statute (in CA - this means either registered or certified mail, express mail, or overnight delivery by an express service carrier), the notice requirement is fulfilled when the notice is sent rather than when it is received. Wrapping all of that together - notice may be sent to the contractor at the address they provide on the contract. Plus, notice is considered effective when sent (properly) rather than when it is received. It follows, then, that a service properly sent to the improper address a contractor has provided would be considered effective. Granted, a contractor or owner might still challenge this issue, and it's tough to predict how a given court would rule if it came down to litigation. But ultimately, it seems unlikely that a contractor could merely provide an inaccurate address and claim that because notice was sent to the inaccurate address, the notice was ineffective. Regardless, it's a good idea to keep a record of when the notice was sent to the address provided in the contract, as well as the contract itself. Informing the contractor of the failed notice would likely be a good idea as well. If notice can be re-sent to the contractor before the deadline to provide preliminary notice (which is 20 days from the sender's first furnishing), this might be an appealing option - but if the deadline to send notice has passed, sending additional notice may work to reset the timeframe for which notice was sent. If that's the case, a claimant might be afforded less protection.
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