In Georgia, most subcontractors and suppliers must send preliminary notice to retain the right to file a mechanics lien or make a bond claim. A preliminary notice is an informational document typically sent to the GC and/or the property owner near the beginning of a construction project. Here's what you need to know about the rules and requirements for sending (and filing) preliminary notice in Georgia.
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Georgia preliminary notice requirements for:
General contractors are not required to send a preliminary notice on private projects.
General contractors are not required to send a preliminary notice on public projects.
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.
Subcontractors and suppliers often must send notice on private projects.
Notice must be sent within 30 days
Notice is sent to owner and prime contractor
Notices CANNOT be sent late
If the GC filed a notice of commencement, parties who do not have a direct contract with the owner must send notice.
Subcontractors and suppliers often must send notice on public projects.
Notice must be sent within 30 days
Notice is sent to the original contractor
Notice CANNOT be sent late
If a notice of commencement was filed, parties who did not contract directly with the owner must send a preliminary notice to the general contractor to preserve their lien rights.
On private projects (e.g. residential or commercial), any party who did not contract with the prime contractor must send a Notice to Contractor form to the owner and prime contractor within 30 days of first furnishing. However, this requirement only holds if a Notice of Commencement is filed. If a Notice of Commencement wasn’t filed on the project, a preliminary notice isn’t required to protect lien rights.
Georgia has a different type of preliminary notice for use on private projects, known as a Preliminary Notice of Lien Rights. When filed with the appropriate county office, this notice prevents lien rights from being knocked out by a prime contractor’s affidavit or lien waiver attesting to the payment of all subcontractors and suppliers. The notice should be filed with the clerk of the superior court of the county in which the project is located, and a copy of the filed notice should be sent to the owner and general contractor within 7 days of filing by certified mail return receipt requested.
On public projects, Georgia requires all parties who do not have a direct contract with the general contractor to provide preliminary notice. This notice preserves the right to make a bond claim in Georgia if the general contractor has properly filed and posted a Notice of Commencement. But, subcontractors hired directly by the GC won’t need to send any preliminary notice.
A Preliminary Notice of Lien Rights (both residential and commercial) may be filed with the county clerk’s office no later than 30 from furnishing any labor and/or materials to the project; the earlier the better. After filing, a copy must then be sent to the owner within 7 days of filing.
Information Notice to Owner must be delivered at the time of signing the construction contract with the owner. However, if the contract is for less than $2,000 originally, and then exceeds the $2,000 threshold, the notice must be delivered within 5 days of the date on which the contractor knows or reasonably should know that the contract will exceed $2,000.
On public construction projects, preliminary notice must be received by the general contractor within 30 days of the filing of the notice of commencement, or within 30 days of the claimant’s first furnishing of labor and/or materials to the project – whichever is later.
If a party fails to serve a required Notice to Contractor before the deadline, they lose the right to file a mechanics lien or make a bond claim in the event they are not paid. However, if a Notice of Commencement was not filed on the project, then sub-tier party lien rights are not affected.
This Preliminary Notice of Lien Rights should be filed with the clerk of the superior court of the Georgia county in which the project is located, and a copy of the filed notice should be sent to the owner and general contractor within 7 days of filing by registered or certified mail or statutory overnight delivery.
How should a Notice to Contractor be sent in Georgia?
On private construction projects, the Notice to Contractor must be sent by registered or certified mail, or by statutory overnight delivery. Where the statute calls for delivery by certified mail, standard certified mail is recommended and there is no need to send with return receipt requested.
On public projects, Georgia statutes do not specify how the preliminary notice must be delivered to the general contractor. Because of this, a method of delivery with proof of delivery is likely advisable. Sending the notice by certified or registered mail, or by personal service is likely sufficient.
Is the Georgia Preliminary Notice Requirement met when sent or delivered?
The preliminary notice is considered delivered at the time of mailing. When notices must be sent by certified mail, Georgia courts have consistently held that actual delivery is immaterial, and that the sending party need only demonstrate that the mailing was sent according to statutory requirements.
Kathy, knowing little information other than what you provided, I think it makes the most sense to try and locate their main office and/or registered agent. (It sounds like you may have already located their main office.) Sending them a letter requesting repayment via certified mail is a good way to make ensure the letter was received. Ultimately, if you get no answer, I would recommend consulting with an attorney to file a lawsuit seeking repayment. At that point, you would have made reasonable efforts to contact the company with no response.
What is the legal detriments of NOT FILING a Preliminary Notice to Owners with the respective Circuit Court ?
Not sure you posted in the right state. In Georgia there is no circuit court, nor is there a "Preliminary Notice to Owners." Your question implies that you are asking for multiple states. Lien law is statutory and varies greatly from state to state. So depending on what the actual question is you'll get a different answer for each state.
How to file Preliminary Notice of Lien Rights on project with separate phases?
A Preliminary Notice of Lien Rights is not a required filing in Georgia to preserve lien rights so you do not have to file it. However, if a Notice of Commencement has been filed, and you do not have a direct contract with the owner or the general contractor, then you must send a Notice to Contractor within 30 days of starting work. You can ask the GC for a copy of any Notice of Commencement that has been filed as the GC is supposed to keep a copy at the project site. It's not a bad idea to get in the habit of always sending a Notice to Contractor on every project as there is no repurcussion if it is not required.
If a Project Participant Is Not in Direct Contact with the Property Owner, Preliminary Notice May Be Required
The only situation where a preliminary notice is required is when the party did not contract with the property owner, and there was a Notice of Commencement filed on the project by the property owner. If these two conditions are met, the preliminary notice is required to be sent within 30 days of the first date of furnishing labor or materials to the project, or within 30 days of the filing of the Notice of Commencement, whichever date is later. Those who contracted directly with the property owner do not have any preliminary notice requirements. If there was no Notice of Commencement filed, preliminary notice may not be required but can be sent by any party to ensure their lien rights.
First, read the guide to preliminary notices in Georgia. The guide walks you through preparing and serving your notice, including everything you need to include in the form, the deadlines to deliver the form, and the guidelines for serving the form properly.
Georgia’s mechanics lien laws are specific about the language and information that you must include on the notice. Levelset’s free forms were written by construction attorneys to meet the strict rules under Georgia law. Download a free Georgia preliminary notice form here.
Fill out the form
Be careful! Accuracy is important.
Make sure all the information on your notice is complete and accurate. Making a mistake on a Georgia preliminary notice form could eliminate your right to file a mechanics lien if you’re left unpaid. Verify and double check your information!
Deliver your preliminary notice
The last step is to deliver your Georgia preliminary notice. Preliminary notices in Georgia must be sent by registered mail, certified mail, return receipt requested, or statutory overnight delivery.
Send your preliminary notice to the address listed on the notice of commencement.
How to send a Preliminary Notice with Levelset
Select Preliminary Notice document.
Provide basic job information.
Levelset sends the document for you. Postage included!