Yes, filing a pre-lien notice, also known as a preliminary notice or notice of intent to lien, can help you get paid for the work or the supplies your company has delivered. It helps by notifying the general contractor and property owner that you know your rights per Texas Law.
In January 2022, the legislature updated the Texas mechanic’s lien laws. As a result, sub-subcontractors no longer have to give the (previously required) ‘two-month’ notice; however, just as sub-contractors, they must provide the ‘third-month’ legal notice before filing an affidavit of lien.
First, let’s look at a few definitions. The general (or original) contractor is the person or company with a direct contract with the project owner.
Next, we have subcontractors; who specialize in a specific type of construction, such as framing, landscaping, or plumbing. They work for the general contractor.
Lower-tier contractors have agreements with other subcontractors.
For example, a general contractor, Joe Lopez Construction, signs an agreement with the project owner for Top Notch Barbeque to build a new restaurant.
Joe Lopez Construction then hires Sam Greene, a subcontractor, to do the job’s metal framing and interior walls.
But Sam Greene needs an expert crew to hang the drywall, so he hires Steve Johnson to hang and finish the drywall.
Steve Johnson is now acting as sub-subcontractor, a lower-tier contractor with a signed agreement with Sam Greene.
Only subcontractors and lower-level subcontractors are required to send pre-lien notices.
Protect the right to file a contractor’s lien by submitting monthly notices.
Since Texas lien laws can be confusing and have different deadlines, here is a review.
1) To qualify to file a contractor’s lien claim on a property for a commercial project, the subcontractor or material supplier must send an invoice or request for payment by the 15th day of the second month after the month the work was performed. In our example, let’s say Sam Greene and Steve Johnson did the job in January. They must send their invoice by March 15.
2) If Sam or Steve don’t receive their payment by the beginning of April, by the 15 of that month, they should each send a pre-lien notice to the general contractor and the project owner to communicate their intent to file a lien.This is called the three-month notice.
Even though Sam and Steve are not legally obligated to file the lien, it may encourage the company that owes them to pay the outstanding invoices. Subcontractors want to maintain good communication with the general contractor, so remember this isn’t a threatening document, just a reminder that you can file a lien on the property if you don’t get paid.
Sam and Steve don’t need to notarize these documents, but they should send them by certified mail with a return receipt requested or any other method that can be traceable. This receipt proves that both the property owner and the contractor received their information.
3) Last, if Sam and/or Steve have not received their payment by early May, they must file their Affidavit of Lien forms by May 15, which is the fourth month after the month on which the work was performed (January). All affidavits must be filed with the County Clerk in the county where the job is located.
Remember that before sending the required three-month pre-lien notice, you can always send an optional two-month notice to remind the general contractor and project owner that they have yet to pay you. Then meet the deadlines to send the pre-lien notice and to file the affidavit of lien to protect your right to file a contractor’s lien.
So, yes, pre-lien notices can help you get paid.
You’ll get the hard-earned money you deserve sooner when you review your invoices, watch your payment deadlines, and follow up with pre-lien notices and filing liens.
Texas Easy Lien created an easy-to-use online filing service to save you money and time. Answer some simple questions, and we can walk you through the steps to prepare and send pre-lien notices and file affidavits of lien.
Protect your subcontractor’s rights by visiting TexasEasyLien.com today and get paid for your construction work.