Tennessee Preliminary Notice Guide and FAQs

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Tennessee Preliminary Notice FAQs

About Tennessee Preliminary Notices

Tennessee Preliminary Notice Rules
At a Glance


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Preliminary Notices Are Required

Some type of notice is generally needed to preserve lien rights in Tennessee.


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DAYS
GCs Must Send Notice

Notice to Owner must be sent prior to commencing work or executing the contract. For owner-occupied 1-4 family residential projects, the "notice" language must be in the contract itself.


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DAYS
Subcontractors Must Send Notice

Notice of Non-Payment must be provided to the owner within 90 days of last day of the month labor and materials provided. For example, if labor was provided on April 3, then notice is provided 90 days from April 30. Separate notices are required for each month unpaid services or materials are provided.


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Suppliers Must Send Notice

If supplying to the owner, the same notice requirements apply as for the prime contractor. Otherwise, the same notice requirements as for a subcontractor.


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Notice Cannot be Sent Late

In Tennessee the notice deadlines are strict. The general contractor’s notice to owner is required to preserve the general contractor’s lien rights. Failure to deliver the notice is fatal the mechanics lien claim. And, the notice of nonpayment from sub-tier parties is only valid if given timely. Note, however, that since this is a recurring deadline, it is possible to retain some rights if multiple notices are required and not all are provided late.


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Send to Owner and GC

The GCs notice is only required to be provided to the property owner. The sub-tier monthly notice of nonpayment must be provided to both the property owner and the GC.

Preliminary notice not required in WV
Preliminary Notice Not Required

Tennessee does not require preliminary notice to be delivered by any project participant in order to retain the right to make a claim against the payment bond secured for a public project. However, sending preliminary notice even when not required is generally beneficial to promote visibility, open channels for communication, and streamline payment.


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N/A

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.


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Notice Not Required from Subs

Tennessee does not require preliminary notice to be delivered by any project participant in order to retain the right to make a claim against the payment bond secured for a public project. However, sending preliminary notice even when not required is generally beneficial to promote visibility, open channels for communication, and streamline payment.


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Notice Not Required from Suppliers

Tennessee does not require preliminary notice to be delivered by any project participant in order to retain the right to make a claim against the payment bond secured for a public project. However, sending preliminary notice even when not required is generally beneficial to promote visibility, open channels for communication, and streamline payment.

Tennessee has interesting preliminary notice requirements. All construction project participants are generally required to provide some type of preliminary notice, no matter what tier of the payment chain the participant inhabits. Interestingly, however, preliminary notice is not required (other than notice contained within contractual provisions between the owner and direct contractor) for projects involving owner-occupied 1-4 family residential buildings.

For projects other than owner-occupied 1-4 family residential buildings, notice is specifically required for all project participants. Direct contractors are required to furnish a “Notice to Owner” prior to commencing work on the project or making of the contract. This notice requirement is set forth by § 66-11-203 and the form for the notice, which must be substantially followed, is included in that section. By the wording of the statute, it appears that a notice provided after the contract is executed, but prior to the commencement of work on the project would be timely.

The notice requirement for subcontractors, suppliers, and all other parties who don’t contract directly with the property has a deadline much later in the project than the deadline for direct contractors. Sub-tier parties must deliver their notice within 90 days of the last day of each month in which labor and/or materials were provided but remain unpaid. This means that if labor or material was last delivered on June 5th, the notice deadline would be 90 days from June 30. An interesting note, however, is that Tennessee’s preliminary notice requirement – while not technically an NOI – has a deadline far enough after the work is performed or material furnished that the requirement is dependent on amounts remaining unpaid. If the amount are paid within 90 days, there is no need to send a preliminary notice, and if the only amounts remaining unpaid are retainage amounts, no notice is technically required. It’s also worth noting that this notice requirement is a “monthly” notice requirement, and that a notice of nonpayment is due for and after each month in which labor or material were furnished but are not paid by the deadline.

For owner-occupied residential projects (of  1-4 units), there is no specific preliminary notice requirements, but specific “notice” language must actually be built into the contract between the general contractor and the owner. There are no notice requirements on such projects for parties other than direct contractors.

In all cases, notice is sent via certified mail return receipt requested to preserve rights. A lien is not valid without a timely notice.

Tennessee Preliminary Notice Frequently Asked Questions

If you're working on jobs in Tennessee you need to know about preliminary notice requirements. Since most parties on most jobs in Tennessee are required to provide preliminary notice of some sort, it's important to get all the details right. If you're receiving prelims, it's important to know what you're looking at and know what to do in followup. Since prelims in Tennessee are subject to a lot of complex rules and requirements, this can all be difficult and tedious for everybody. Here are some frequently asked questions (and their answers) about the Tennessee preliminary notice process.

Do I Need to Send a Tennessee Preliminary Notice?

Generally, yes. Prime contractors, subcontractors, laborers, and suppliers are all required to give preliminary notice.

On a project consisting of 1 to 4 family residential owner-occupied buildings, a “notice” must also be contained within the contract itself between the home improvement general contractor and the owner-occupier.

When do I Need to Send a Tennessee Preliminary Notice?

Prime Contractor: Must deliver preliminary notice to the property owner, via certified or registered mail, prior to commencement of work or entering into the contract.

All Other Parties: Preliminary notice must be received by the property owner within 90 days of the last day of each month in which labor and/or materials were furnished.

What if I Send the Tennessee Preliminary Notice Late?

General Contractor: The general contractor’s notice to owner is required to preserve the general contractor’s lien rights. Failure to deliver the notice is fatal the mechanics lien claim.

All Other Parties: While failure to send preliminary notice timely may not extinguish all lien rights, a mechanics lien would only be valid for the amounts timely noticed. This is important as a potential lien claimant may be required to send several notices if amounts have been unpaid in multiple months.

How Should the Tennessee Preliminary Notice be Sent?

Preliminary notice by all potential lien claimants may be served by certified mail, return receipt requested.

On a project consisting of 1 to 4 family residential owner-occupied buildings, additional required “notice”  must be contained within the contract itself between the home improvement general contractor and the owner-occupier.

Do I Have to Send the Tennessee Preliminary Notice to Someone Other than the Owner?

The general contractor’s preliminary notice must only be served on the property owner.

All other lien claimants must provide preliminary notice to both the property owner and the general contractor.

Note also that notice may be provided to the construction lender prior to work to attempt to get the mechanics lien priority over the construction mortgage.

Is the Tennessee Preliminary Notice Requirement met when sent or delivered?

In Tennessee, preliminary notice is considered delivered when sent by certified mail, return receipt requested.

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Tennessee Preliminary Notice Form Template

The Tennessee preliminary notice forms are regulated by statute. This doesn’t mean that the form has to look 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 Tennessee rules. You can download them for free, or use our system to send or request them easily.

Tennessee Sworn Affidavit to Owner Form - free from

Tennessee Sworn Affidavit to Owner Form

Upon completion of the contract or improvement, and upon receipt of final payment, a Tennessee contractor must deliver the owner a sworn affidavit stating that...

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Tennessee Notice to Owner Form - free from

Tennessee Notice to Owner Form

Prime Contractors must deliver a Notice to Owner to the property owner before work begins on a project. It must contain specific information, and it...

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Tennessee Notice of Non-Payment Form - free from

Tennessee Notice of Non-Payment Form

A remote contractor who has not been paid for work must timely deliver a Notice of NonPayment before filing a lien. It must be sent...

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