We have a job where the customer has unpaid balances outside of the contract amount. Can I file separate pre liens for those items? If I send out a pre lien at one amount, and it changes, how can I update a pre lien?
Sep 21, 2017
This type of question is common in states that require a dollar figure to be included on a preliminary notice. The general answer is that absent 1) a specific requirement to update the noticed amount (like in Arizona, which requires an additional preliminary notice when the labor or material furnished exceeds the amount in the preliminary notice by 20% or more); or 2) an additional separate contract under which work was performed; it is generally unnecessary to send an additional, updated, or revised preliminary notice.
California specifically holds that only one preliminary notice is required unless a separate contract with a separate party is executed. And, in fact, it can potentially be detrimental to send multiple preliminary notices, as it can possibly work to re-set the time notice was sent for deadline purposes. That being said, it's important to include a good-faith estimate of the total value of the labor/material furnished on the preliminary notice, as a figure "not derived by any rational process, [with] no bearing whatsoever on the actual work done and to be done on the project" is insufficient for compliance with the preliminary notice requirements. If the preliminary notice was sent with a figure derived by rational estimate, only one preliminary notice is needed unless a separate contract with another party is executed.