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Preliminary Notice FAQ

A Pennsylvania preliminary notice is a letter sent by a contractor 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.

It depends. A preliminary notice is not required in Pennsylvania if a party has a direct contract with the property owner. This means primary contractors are exempt from sending a preliminary notice.

A Pennsylvania notice of furnishing, meanwhile, is required from all other potential claimants if the project costs more than $1.5 million and the property owner filed a notice of commencement. The notice must be filed in the state construction notice registry.

If required, a Pennsylvania notice of furnishing should be filed within 45 days after first supplying labor materials.

A Pennsylvania notice of furnishing should be filed in the state construction notice registry.

If a Pennsylvania notice of furnishing is required but not sent, the mechanics lien will be considered invalid.

Intent To File FAQ

A Pennsylvania 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.

Parties other than prime contractors are required to submit a Pennsylvania notice of intent to lien.

A Pennsylvania notice of intent to lien should be sent at least 30 days before filing a lien.

A Pennsylvania notice of intent to lien should be sent to the property owner or the owner’s agent.

If a party is required to send a Pennsylvania notice of intent to lien but fails to send one, the subsequent mechanics lien will be considered invalid.

Mechanics Lien FAQ

A Pennsylvania 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 and suppliers.

 

This means that if you file a valid mechanics lien on a project you worked on in Pennsylvania 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.

If you successfully file a Pennsylvania 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.

The following construction participants have the right to file a mechanics lien in Pennsylvania, except where noted¹:

 

  • Parties that have a direct contractual relationship with the property owner, the general contractor, or a subcontractor with a direct contract with the prime contractor can file a mechanics lien. These parties usually include prime contractors, first and second-tier subcontractors, and suppliers. 
  • Engineers and architects must have a direct contract with the property owner in order to be protected by lien rights. They must also perform an additional role in the project, such as supervision of construction or repair.
  • Parties claiming less than $500 and those who worked on a private project with a strictly public purpose cannot file a mechanics lien. 
  • Claimants who have a written agreement with the owner or general contractor that a mechanics lien may not be filed on the property lose their lien rights.

A Pennsylvania mechanics lien must be filed within 6 months after the claimant’s completion of work on the project.² It must be filed with the prothonotary of the county where the project is situated. 

 

Within 1 month of filing the mechanics lien, a notice of filing of a claim is required to be served on the owner of the property. This can be done through personal service or by posting conspicuously on the project site. 

 

After posting or serving the notice of filing of a claim, an affidavit of service of notice must be filed within 20 days.

A mechanics lien must be enforced within two years after it was filed.³ If no such action is taken by the claimant within this period, the lien expires.

The following pieces of information must appear on your Pennsylvania mechanics lien form⁴:

  • The name of the claimant
  • The capacity of the claimant, whether as a general contractor or a subcontractor
  • Information on the property owner
  • If the claimant is not a general contractor, the name of the contractor or subcontractor they contracted with
  • The claim’s amount
  • A description of the work or materials supplied
  • The date the work or materials provided were completed
  • The date of formal notice
  • A description of the property subject to the lien.

No, you don’t need to have a license for the work you provided on a project in order to be eligible to file a mechanics lien in Pennsylvania. However, it is best to have a license for a job you have chosen to take if it requires one.

Pennsylvania allows contractors and subcontractors working on a residential project to waive their rights to file a claim against the property.⁵

 

Contractors and subcontractors working on a non-residential property are disallowed from waiving their lien rights. 

 

Pennsylvania has no legislatively designed lien waiver forms, and therefore you can use any lien waiver form. But since these forms are not regulated in the state, be cautious when signing one.

Pennsylvania has no specific requirements when it comes to lien releases. In any case, when payment has been settled, the mechanics lien filed to produce it should be cancelled. The release is filed in the county where the lien was filed.

Pay if paid clauses in Pennsylvania are a condition precedent, meaning payment is due to the subcontractor only if payment to the contractor has been settled by the property owner. 

Pay when paid  clauses in Pennsylvania are treated as a timing mechanism, in that the timing for a subcontractor’s receipt of payment from the contractor is determined by the contractor’s receipt of payment from the property owner.

References:

https://www.legis.state.pa.us/

¹ Pennsylvania Mechanics’ Lien Law of 1963 Section 301

² Pennsylvania Mechanics’ Lien Law of 1963 Section 501

³ Pennsylvania Mechanics’ Lien Law of 1963 Section 701

Pennsylvania Mechanics’ Lien Law of 1963 Section 501

Pennsylvania Mechanics’ Lien Law of 1963 Section 401

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.