A mechanics lien is an excellent source of protection for subcontractors, material suppliers, and design professionals when it comes to protecting payment rights on private commercial construction projects. However, it requires diligent and thorough paperwork to file a mechanics lien in the state of Texas. In this post, we’ll look at the notice of intent to lien form, how it works, and what you should know.
First, what notice of intent to file a lien?
The notice of intent to lien form in Texas is also commonly called a pre-lien notice. If you are a subcontractor, materials supplier, or eligible design professional and slow payment or non-payment is affecting you on a job, then sending the general contractor and owner a pre-lien notice is often enough to initiate payment. Why? Because a notice of intent to file a lien (in Texas) alerts the general contractor or owner that you are not being paid for your work and could publicly file a lien against the property in order to collect.
As is the case with Texas’ complicated construction laws, there are confusing requirements for sending a notice of intent to file a lien – and ignoring them will forfeit your right to file a lien at all.
Ok, who sends notice of intent to lien?
First, let’s look at who is required to send a notice of intent to lien. In Texas, the subcontractor, sub-subcontractor, materials supplier, design professional, equipment lessor, or anybody that did not contract directly with the property owner or general contractor must send a pre-lien notice to protect their right to file a mechanic’s lien.
If you are the general contractor or anyone that works directly with the owner, you do not need to send pre-lien notices before filing a mechanic’s lien.
When is the intent to lien letter sent?
Now that we’ve established who is required to send the notice of intent to lien form, let’s tackle the next hurdle in this process. When do you send it? There are some hard and fast rules for mailing notices of intent to lien in Texas. First and foremost, you have to invoice the work performed. Your billing invoice is due no later than the 15th day of the second month after you performed the work – any later, and you lose your right to file a lien. If you invoiced the work and payment were not made, then you can send a pre-lien notice to the owner and general contractor.
There are different deadlines for sending a pre-lien notice, depending on where you fall in the job hierarchy. The 1st tier subcontractors and materials suppliers or those that work directly for the general contractor is required to send the notice of intent to lien form to the general contractor and owner by the 15th day of the third month after the month the work was performed.
The 2nd tier contractors, or those that work for a subcontractor, have one less month than the 1st tier contractors. For more explanation and details on these often-confusing deadlines, check out this chart.
Texas requires that you send a pre-lien notice for each month you’re not paid, or you will forfeit your right to file a mechanics lien for that month’s work.
How is it sent, and to whom?
In Texas, the notice of intent to lien must be sent by USPS certified mail, or any other form of traceable delivery that confirms proof of receipt (keep the receipt for your records). The notice must go to both the owner of the property and the general contractor. We recommend all sub-subcontractors (2nd Tier contractors) also send a copy to the subcontractors above them on the job.
Filing Within Reach
A mechanic’s lien is an essential tool for protecting your income. We offer easy access and filing of the forms we discussed above at Texas Easy Lien.