Stop Notices
Guide & FAQs

How stop notices work in construction, and how they affect your rights and requirements on a project.

What is a stop notice?

A Stop Notice is a document sent to the construction lender, property owner, or public entity for the purpose of stopping, freezing, or intercepting unpaid construction funds. A stop notice is another statutory protection, in addition to mechanics liens and payment bond claims, to ensure that contractors and suppliers on construction projects get paid what they’ve earned.

It is also referred to as a “stop payment notice,” or “stop lending notice.”

How are stop notices different from mechanics liens?

A stop notice can be used as a substitute, or in addition to, a mechanics lien claim when faced with non-payment. Although they operate in the same general manner, there are some important differences. The most notable being that a stop notice only attaches to project funds, not the property itself. In this way, it is more similar to a payment bond claim.

Another important difference is that a stop notice only applies to project funds that have yet to be paid out or disbursed to the project. This essentially makes recovery similar to an “unpaid balance” mechanics lien.

In which states are they available?

Stop notices are only available in a small handful of states. These states include:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Washington

Each state has its own specific requirements and deadlines for a stop notice to be effective.

Note: Mississippi used to be included on this list. However, in 2012 the MS courts declared that the stop payment statute was unconstitutional.

What are the remedies for failing to withhold funds?

When the construction lender or property owner fails to withhold funds pursuant to a stop notice, the remedies available to the party who sent the stop notice vary by state to state. Typically, the party who sent notice will be entitled, at the very least, to attorney’s fees and court costs for enforcing their rights. Other states, such as Washington, will also grant the mechanics lien priority over the lender’s trust, deed, or mortgage.

Frequently Asked Questions About Stop Notices

Stop notices provide extra protection to payments on a construction project. Get answers to some of the most frequent questions that contractors and suppliers ask.

What is a Stop Notice?

A stop notice is a written demand to the construction lender or property owner to withhold a specified amount of project funds to cover the amount claimed is due in the stop notice.

How will a Stop Notice get me paid?

Stop notice, when received by a property owner or construction lender, require them to withhold the amount claimed.

Do I have the right to send a Stop Notice?

Stop notices are only available in 4 states; Alaska, Arizona, California, and Washington. Whether you have the right to send a stop notice will vary between each state.

However, the general rule is, that if the party has a right to file a mechanics lien, they'll have the right to send a stop notice. This means that most parties who furnish labor or materials for the permanent improvement of real property will have the right to send a stop notice.

Is a preliminary notice required to send a Stop Notice?

With the exception of Alaska, every other state that has stop notice statutes, require a preliminary notice in order to have the right to send a stop notice. When and how these notices are sent depends on the state.

You can visit our Resources Page and click on your state for a full breakdown of all the rules and requirements.

Do the rules and processes to send a Stop Notice change according to project location?

Although the fundamental concept of a stop notice doesn't change according to the project location, the requirements and remedies vary from state to state.

You can visit our Resources Page and click on your state for a full breakdown of all the rules and requirements.

Do the rules and processes to send a Stop Notice change according to project type?

As far as the project type, only California law allows stop notices on public works projects. The requirements are essentially the same, with a few minor differences.

Is a Stop Notice usually paired with something else?

Yes, a stop notice is most effective when used in conjunction with a mechanics lien or bond claim. Using these two remedies in conjunction affects both the property itself (or the bond where applicable), and the funding of the project. This can get your payment dispute the attention of multiple parties, which increases the chances of getting paid.

What are the penalties for failing to withhold funds after receiving a Stop Notice?

Generally speaking, the penalties for failing to withhold project funds are attorney fees and court costs in an action to enforce their rights. In addition to that, Washington for example, will also grant a mechanics lien priority over the construction lenders trust, deed, or mortgage.
Alaska Stop Notice Form thumbnail

Alaska Stop Notice Form

In Alaska, a stop notice gives unpaid contractors or suppliers the power to interrupt the funding on a construction project in order to get paid....

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Washington Stop Notice Form thumbnail

Washington Stop Notice Form

In Washington, a stop notice gives unpaid contractors or suppliers the power to interrupt the funding on a construction project in order to get paid....

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California Stop Work Notice Form

California Stop Work Notice Form

This notice informs the property owner of a construction project in California that, if payments owed to a prime contractor are not made, work will...

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California Public Stop Notice and Bond Claim Form

California Public Stop Notice and Bond Claim Form

The stop work notice puts the bonding and government agents on notice of the debt to the claimant, and liens the project’s funds for the...

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California Release of Stop Notice Form

California Release of Stop Notice Form

After being paid, a claimant may deliver and file a Release of the Stop Notice to cancel its stop notice request.

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California Stop Notice Form

California Stop Notice Form

In California a stop notice, or stop notice claim, is a type of notice that subcontractors or contractors use to seek payment for their work...

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