Construction Frequently
Asked Questions.

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Preliminary Notice FAQ

A Minnesota 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.

Yes, potential claimants are required to submit a Minnesota preliminary notice, with some exceptions. 

A party that has a direct contractual relationship with the property owner must send a General Contractor’s Notice to the owner. 

All parties that do not have a direct contractual relationship with the owner must send a Lien Claimant’s Notice to the owner. This notice is also required of a general contractor who contracted with just one of the owners of a property.

A Minnesota General Contractor’s Notice is usually included in the written contract with the owner. If it is not, or if there is no such contract, this notice must be given personally to the owner or sent by certified mail within 10 days of agreeing on work.⁴

A Lien Claimant’s Notice must be delivered  personally or by certified mail within 45 days of first providing labor or materials.

Failure to send a General Contractor’s Notice and a Lien Claimant’s Notice when they are required will invalidate a Minnesota mechanics lien.

Intent To File FAQ

A Minnesota 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 Minnesota notice of intent to lien is included in the mechanics lien.

A Minnesota notice of intent to lien should be sent at the same time as the mechanics lien, which is within 120 days of last providing labor or materials.

Mechanics Lien FAQ

A Minnesota 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 file a valid mechanics lien on a project you worked on 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.

When you successfully file a valid Minnesota 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.

Parties that provide labor, services or materials at the request of the owner of a property, their agent, the contractor, or a subcontractor have lien rights in Minnesota. Others who may file a mechanics lien are surveyors, architects, and engineers.¹ 

Suppliers usually can file a mechanics lien even if the materials they provided weren’t used in their project so long as they were supplied in good faith. 

Minnesota courts are divided on the issue of whether site work is lienable. There is also a debate on lienable fixtures and non-lienable trade fixtures. For example, it was ruled in the state that a movie screen is not a fixture in a movie theatre. 

Suppliers to suppliers don’t have lien rights in Minnesota.

A Minnesota mechanics lien must be recorded and served on the owner of a property within 120 days of last providing labor or materials.² 

In determining the deadline of filing, courts in the state will discount “items of labor or material which are nominal or insignificant in amount and furnished for the sole purpose of extending the time for filing the lien.”

A claimant has 1 year to enforce a Minnesota mechanics lien from the date of last furnishing materials or labor³. The lien expires after this period if no such action is taken.

The following pieces of information must appear on a Minnesota mechanics lien form:

  • A notice of intention to claim and hold a lien and its amount
  • A statement that the amount is owed to the claimant for labor, services or materials provided
  • What the labor, materials or labor was supplied for
  • The claimant’s name
  • The name of the person(s) to or for whom the labor or materials were provided
  • The date the materials or labor was first provided
  • The date the materials or labor was last provided
  • A description of the property subject to the lien sufficient for identification
  • The name of the owner of the property at the time of filing the lien
  • The post office address of the lien claimant
  • An acknowledgment that a copy of the lien must be served personally or by certified mail within the required 120-day period
  • A statement that notice as required by section 514.011, subdivision 2, if any, was provided

A claimant does not need to have a license to file a Minnesota mechanics lien.

Minnesota does not have legislatively designed lien waiver forms, so any such form may be used. Exercise caution when signing one, however, since they are not regulated in the state. 

State law prohibits waiving the right to file a mechanics lien or make a claim against a payment bond before payment is received. Any such waiver may not be enforced. The statute, however, rules that the waiver may be considered valid as to a third party that relied on it to their disadvantage.

Minnesota has no strict requirements when it comes to canceling a mechanics lien.

Pay if paid clauses are enforceable in Minnesota, but they should be clear and unambiguous.

Pay when paid clauses are enforceable too, but there should be no delays in payment when the GC has been paid.


Minnesota Construction Lien Law

¹ Minnesota Statutes Section 514.01

² Minnesota Statutes Section 514.011

³ Minnesota Statutes Section 514.12

Minnesota Statutes Section 514.011 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.