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Preliminary Notice FAQ

A Massachusetts preliminary notice is a letter sent by a contractor, laborer or supplier to the property owner at the start of a construction project. In many states, a preliminary notice is required to be sent in order to secure the right to lien.

Any party that does not have a contract with the general contractor but has a contract with a subcontractor must provide a Notice of Identification to the general contractor within 30 days after first supplying labor or materials.

All parties with a written contract must file a Notice of Contract or Notice of Subcontract.

Second-tier subcontractors must give a Notice of Identification to the general contractor within 30 days after first supplying labor or materials. 

 

All parties with a written contract with the owner, general contractor or a subcontractor must file a Notice of Contract or Notice of Subcontract in the Registry of Deeds no later than the earliest of the following⁴:

  • 60 days after filing a Notice of Substantial Completion
  • 90 days after filing a Notice of Termination
  • 90 days after last providing labor or materials

If the claimant has no contract with the property owner, a Notice of Contract or Notice of Subcontract must be given to the property owner as well.

If a Notice of Identification is given late, the claimant will be limited to the amount owed to the first-tier subcontractor at the time of filing a Notice of Contract.

Failure to send a Notice of Contract or Notice of Subcontract on time will invalidate a lien.

Intent To File FAQ

A Massachusetts notice of intent to lien is sent before the filing of a mechanics lien becomes necessary. Although only a number of states require that this notice be sent, many construction participants send a notice of intent to lien as an uncostly way to have payments for invoices settled.

A notice of intent to lien is not required in Massachusetts. However, you may still send this notice to the property owner as a reminder of any outstanding payment.

In order for the property owner to have enough time to settle payments, send your Massachusetts notice of intent to lien at least 10 days before your intended date of filing a mechanics lien.

Not sending a notice of intent to lien in Massachusetts has no bearing on your lien right since this notice is not required.

Mechanics Lien FAQ

A Massachusetts mechanics lien is an effective tool that helps make sure you will be paid for the construction materials and/or labor you supplied. It is a legal claim that guarantees payment for contractors.

This means that if you have a valid mechanics lien on a project you worked on in Massachusetts and weren’t paid for your work, you have the right to enforce the lien through a lawsuit. This enforcement action can either prompt the client to settle or force the sale of the property. The proceeds of the sale will be used to settle your unpaid bill.

With a valid Massachusetts mechanics lien, you have an interest in the improved property. When a mechanics lien is filed on the property you worked on, the property becomes collateral for uncollected payments.

General contractors, subcontractors, professional service providers, and material or rental equipment providers can file a mechanics lien.¹

Design professionals such as architects, landscape architects, licensed site professionals, licensed land surveyors and engineers also have lien rights.

Suppliers to suppliers, parties below sub-subcontractors, and sellers of equipment and tools don’t have mechanics lien protection.

A mechanics lien, called Statement of Account in Massachusetts, must be filed no later than the earliest of the following²:

  1. 90 days after filing a Notice of Completion
  1. 120 days after filing a Notice of Termination
  2. 120 days after last providing labor or materials

A Massachusetts mechanics lien should be enforced within 90 days of filing. The lien expires after this period. 

Within 30 days of starting the enforcement action, the lien claimant must also record an attested copy of the Complaint for Enforcement of Lien with the Registry of Deeds.³

A Notice of Contract must bear the following pieces of information:

  • Date of contract
  • The name of the owner of the property
  • The name of the contractor
  • A description of the property where the project is situated

A Notice of Subcontract must contain the following pieces of information:

  • Date of contract
  • The name of the hiring party
  • The name of the claimant
  • A description of the property where the project is situated
  • The amount of the contract at the time of the lien’s filing, given as follows:
  1. Contract price
  2. Agreed change orders (indicate whether addition or subtraction)
  3. Pending change orders (indicate whether addition or subtraction)
  4. Disputed claims (indicate whether addition or subtraction)
  5. Payments received
  • The mailing address of the claimant

A Statement of Amount Due must bear the following pieces of information:

  • A just and true account of the amount due
  • A description of the property
  • The names of the owners as mentioned in the notice of contract

No, you don’t have to have a license for the work you did in a project to file a mechanics lien in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts has legislatively designed waiver forms which it requires all involved parties to use. Using a form that does not conform to this design will invalidate a lien.

Pay if paid clauses are generally unenforceable in Massachusetts except in the following two situations:

  • The party seeking payment had a failure in performance. The party seeking to enforce the clause must provide a written notice of the failure to enforce it.
  • The party seeking to enforce the clause is insolvent, or unable to pay debts, or becomes insolvent within 90 days after submission of the application for payment.

Pay when paid clauses are prohibited.

References:

https://malegislature.gov

Massachusetts Mechanics Lien Statute

¹ Massachusetts General Laws Section 1

² Massachusetts General Laws Section 4

³ Massachusetts General Laws Section 5

Massachusetts General Laws Section 2

Handle.com provides answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to contractors and others who are seeking information regarding preliminary notices, intent to file, mechanics lien, and other construction questions. These are provided for informational purposes only, and we cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies.

Massachusetts documents

Mechanics Lien

Still chasing payments on a construction project? File a Mechanics Lien on the project to recoup unpaid labor and materials.

Preliminary Notice

Secure rights to file a lien and notify parties you’re on the job. Not filing a preliminary notice may result in lost revenue in case of a delinquent client.