Before filing a mechanics lien, it is strongly recommended that you first send the property owner a notice of intent to file a lien. Sending a notice of intent is required in some states, but there are states like Delaware in which notifying the property owner about your intention to record a mechanics lien is not mandatory.
However, construction participants in Delaware must keep in mind that sending a notice of intent can be enough to get you paid. Serving this notice is like giving the owner an ultimatum before you record a lien, and many property owners would rather settle a payment debt instead of having to deal with a mechanics lien.
This guide explains how you can effectively file a notice of intent to lien in Delaware.
- Who must send a Notice of Intent in Delaware?
- When do you send a Delaware Notice of Intent?
- What happens if you fail to send a Delaware Notice of Intent?
- How to send a Delaware Notice of Intent
- Best practices for sending a Delaware Notice of Intent
Who must send a Notice of Intent in Delaware?
Technically speaking, no party in Delaware is required to serve a Notice of Intent to Lien prior to actually filing a mechanics lien. However, doing so is a strongly recommended step. As mentioned, serving a notice of intention to file a lien can be very effective in getting property owners and other concerned parties to produce payment.
When do you send a Delaware Notice of Intent?
You may serve a Notice of Intent to Lien in Delaware at any time prior to recording a mechanics lien.
Note that it is best practice to serve a notice of intent at least 10 days prior to filing. This gives enough time to the property owner to receive the document and settle the payment debt.
Also note that the deadline for filing a mechanics lien in Delaware is no later than 180 days after project completion or 120 days after your last day of working on a project, depending on your role. Parties with a direct contract with the owner must follow the 180-day deadline, while parties with no direct contractual relationship with the owner must adhere to the 120-day timeframe.
Your notice of intent to lien in Delaware must be served on the property owner within the applicable deadlines.
What happens if you fail to send a Delaware Notice of Intent?
There are no lien-related consequences for failing to send a Notice of Intent to Lien in Delaware. It is an optional step that could get you paid without having to go through the full lien process, but it is otherwise not mandatory.
How to send a Delaware Notice of Intent
1. Prepare the Delaware Notice of Intent form
There are no statutory forms for the Delaware Notice of Intent to Lien. This means you can build your own form and customize the information you include in the document. Generally speaking, your notice of intent to lien must include the following details:
- Your name and address
- The name and address of the property owner
- The name and address of the party who hired you
- A description of the property location sufficient for identification
- A description of the labor and materials you provided to the project
- The unpaid amount to be claimed on a mechanics lien
- An explicit statement declaring your intention to record a mechanics lien.
2. Serve the Notice of Intent
When you have the Delaware Notice of Intention to Lien form ready, you may send it to the property owner. There are no legally prescribed methods for serving the notice of intent. Serving the notice of intention to lien via certified mail with return receipt requested should be sufficient. You may also serve the notice in person.
Remember that the notice of intent is served before you record a mechanics lien, ideally at least 10 days prior. The goal of serving a notice of intent to lien in Delaware is to give the owner a final warning before you attach a lien to their property. Giving them a 10-day heads-up could get them to produce payment before you record a mechanics lien.
Best practices for sending a Delaware Notice of Intent
1. Send a Delaware Notice of Intent to Lien even if it is not required
Serving a Notice of Intent to Lien in Delaware is optional, but it can be effective in getting the owner to pay up. The Notice of Intent to Lien form is also relatively easy to prepare, so you should definitely serve this notice prior to recording a mechanics lien in Delaware.
2. Send a Delaware Notice of Intention to Lien on the hiring party
If the party who hired you is different from the property owner, you may also want to give the hiring party a copy of the notice of intention to lien. Some construction participants are contractually obligated to keep a property lien-free. If, for instance, a general contractor receives your notice of intention to lien, it could nudge them to settle the debt just so they do not end up breaching their contracts.
3. File a Delaware mechanics lien if payment issues continue
The Notice of Intent to Lien in Delaware is not the same as the mechanics lien. It is simply a document that warns a higher-tier party about your intention to record a lien. If you remain unpaid, be sure to record a Delaware mechanics lien. Filing a mechanics lien is still arguably the most effective method in recovering payment from delinquent clients.