Alabama Preliminary Notice Guide and FAQs

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About Alabama Preliminary Notices

Alabama Preliminary Notice Rules
At a Glance


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  • Public Jobs
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Preliminary Notice Mostly Required

Anyone contracting directly with the property owner does not need to send a preliminary notice. However, for all other parties, sending a notice is required prior to filing a lien, and providing a notice prior to work in Alabama results in greater lien protection.


N/A
No Preliminary Notice Required

Anyone contracting directly with the property owner (an “original contractor”) does not need to send preliminary notice.


No Set
Deadine
Before Lien

If there is not direct contract with owner, a Notice of Unpaid Lien must be provided to owner before a claimant may file a lien. Additionally, a pre-work notice to owner provides "full-price" lien protection for any party furnishing materials to the job.


No Set
Deadline
Before Lien

If there is not direct contract with owner, a Notice of Unpaid Lien must be provided to the owner before filing for lien. For any party supplying materials, a pre-furnishing notice to owner may be provided to obtain the same lien rights as a general contractor.


icon-can't waive lien rights
Cannot Send Late

While there is no specific deadline for the notice of unpaid lien, it must be derived prior to filing a lien - if not, the lien is rendered invalid. The pre-work notice to owner must be delivered before work commences in order to be effective to provide "full price" lien rights.


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Deliver to Owner

Notices in Alabama are only required to be sent to the property owner.

Preliminary notice not required in WV
Preliminary Notice Not Required

Alabama does not require preliminary notices be sent to preserve the right to make a claim against a payment bond on a public project.


X
No Notice Required from GCs

On public jobs, any claims for non-payment are made against the general contractor's bond. Since GCs will not make a claim against their own bond for non-payment, they do not have bond claim rights, and have no preliminary notice requirement.


X
No Notice Required from Subs

Alabama does not require preliminary notices be sent to preserve the right to make a claim against a payment bond on a public project.


No Notice Required from Suppliers

Alabama does not require preliminary notices be sent to preserve the right to make a claim against a payment bond on a public project.

Alabama law does not require an “original contractor” to send a preliminary notice. An original contractor is the party who contracted directly with the owner.

For everyone else, there are a few things to know about notices.

First, anyone who did not contract with the owner must deliver a Notice of Unpaid Lien to the property owner. Alabama law does not specify the time by which this notice must be received by the property owner — only noting that it must be before filing the lien.

Second, however, a special optional rule exists for material suppliers, whereby these parties may file a Notice to Owner Prior to Performance  (also known as “Notice to Owner Before Work”) to obtain the same lien rights as an “original contractor.”  To gain the advantage offered by this notice, however, the material supplier must file it prior to furnishing materials.

If there is not direct contract with owner, a Notice of Unpaid Lien must be provided to owner before a claimant may file a lien. While not necessarily required, sending a Notice to Owner will provide Alabama claimants greater protection. Alabama law does not specify how long prior to performance a Notice to Owner must be sent. However, for those supplying materials only, providing a Notice to Owner prior to supplying any materials may work to obtain the same lien rights as a general contractor.

Preliminary Notice Frequently Asked Questions

If you're sending preliminary notices in Alabama, it's important to understand the rules and requirements in order to get the most benefit possible from sending your notice. Since prelims are subject to a lot of complex rules and requirements, this can all be difficult. These are some frequently asked questions about the notice process in Alabama.

Prelim FAQs on Private Projects

Do I need to send an Alabama Preliminary Notice?

Anyone contracting directly with the property owner (an “original contractor”) does not need to send preliminary notice. However, for all other parties, sending preliminary notice in Alabama results in greater lien protection.

Those who do not send a preliminary notice in Alabama are entitled to later file a mechanics lien for the Unpaid Balance amount on the project. For those who properly and timely deliver a preliminary notice, a Full Price Lien will be available. Learn more about the differences between a Full Price Lien and an Unpaid Balance Lien here.

For anyone who furnishes material (material suppliers certainly, but potentially subcontractors who supply material as well), and does not contract directly with the owner, it’s a good idea deliver a Notice to Owner prior to delivering any materials. Sending this notice entitles the sender to a Full Price Lien rather than the usual Unpaid Balance Lien.

Regardless of whether a Notice to Owner is or is not delivered, prior to filing a Statement of Lien (i.e. the mechanics lien), anyone who is not in direct contract with the owner must deliver a Notice of Unpaid Lien to the property owner.

Though Alabama’s preliminary notice rules can be dependent on certain factors, strict compliance with the statute is required. A recent court of appeals decision addressed the state’s notice requirements in Gunther v. Carpet Systems of Huntsville, Inc. Read about that opinion here:  Alabama Does Require Preliminary Notices – And Strict Compliance Required.

When do I need to send an Alabama Preliminary Notice?

Alabama law does not specify how long prior to performance a Notice to Owner must be sent. Presumably, there must be enough notice for the owner to respond prior to the materials being used in the project. The timing of this notice was discussed in an Alabama Appeals Court Case (October 2013): Gunther v. Carpet Systems of Huntsville, Inc. We discussed the article in a Lien Law Alert: Alabama Does Require Preliminary Notices – And Strict Compliance Is Required. There is some ambiguity about whether a notifying party must deliver the notice before every material delivery, or before the first one only, or before any material delivery where protection is desired.

As to the Notice of Unpaid Lien that must be delivered prior to filing a Statement of Lien, anyone who did not contract with the property owner must deliver a Notice of Unpaid Lien to the property owner. Alabama law does not specify the time by which this notice must be received by the property owner, it only notes that it must be before filing the lien, even if that is just immediately before.  Read more about the Notice of Unpaid Lien.

What if I send the Alabama Preliminary Notice Late?

If a Notice to Owner Prior to Performance is not sent, the lien claimant will not lose all rights. He will be unable to file a Full Price Lien, but will be retain his rights to file an Unpaid Balance Lien provided he follows the statutory requirements to do so. If a Notice of Unpaid Lien is not filed on time (before the Statement of Lien is filed), the lien is invalid, and will be extinguished.

How Should the Alabama Preliminary Notice be Sent?

A property owner must have actual notice. Notice should be sent certified mail return receipt in order to show the owner actually received notice.

Do I have to send the Alabama Preliminary Notice to Someone Other than the Owner?

No. In Alabama, notice is to be sent to the property owner, or his agent.

Is the Alabama Preliminary Notice Considered Delivered When Sent or When Received?

Alabama mechanics lien law does not specify whether the notice is considered delivered when sent or when received, but the requirement of Alabama courts that the owner receives “actual” notice seems to point to the notice being considered delivered when received by the owner or his agent.

Prelim FAQs on Public Projects

Do I Need to Send a Preliminary Notice?

No.  Alabama does not require any preliminary notice to preserve a claimant’s right to make a bond claim.

When do I Need to Send a Preliminary Notice?

N/A

What if I Send the Preliminary Notice Late?

Since preliminary notice is not required on Alabama public projects, a notice may never be sent late, and can be sent at any time if desired.

How Should the Preliminary Notice be Sent?

N/A

To Whom Must the Preliminary Notice be Given?

N/A

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Recent Questions & Answers
About Alabama Preliminary Notices

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Alabama Preliminary Notice Form Template

While not specifically required to the extent that notices may be required in other states, there are still specific requirements that must be met in order for an Alabama preliminary notice to be effective. This doesn’t mean that the form has to look at a certain way, but it does mean that the document must contain certain information. The forms provided here for free by Levelset are compliant with the Alabama rules. You can download them for free, or use our system to send or request them easily.

Alabama Notice to Owner Before Work Form - free from

Alabama Notice to Owner Before Work Form

Anyone who furnishes material (material suppliers certainly, but ambiguous as to whether subcontractors who also supply materials must comply), and who are not contracting directly...

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