Construction participants working in government projects are not allowed to record a mechanics lien to recover payment from a difficult client. This is because mechanics liens are exclusive to private construction projects.
Luckily, construction parties in public projects can instead make a payment bond claim. Payment bonds are furnished to a public project by a general contractor, and lower-tier parties such as subcontractors and suppliers can serve a bond claim notice and get paid through the payment bond.
This guide will show you how to make a payment bond claim in Georgia.
- Who can make a payment bond claim in Georgia?
- When is the deadline for making a payment bond claim in Georgia?
- How to make a payment bond claim in Georgia
- Best practices for making a payment bond claim in Georgia
Who can make a payment bond claim in Georgia?
Parties working on public projects other than the general contractor have bond claim rights in Georgia.
General contractors are not allowed to make a claim against the payment bond that they furnished. They must also file a Notice of Commencement within the first 15 days of the date when they first work on a project. When they do, lower-tier parties who have no direct contract with them must serve them a Notice to Contractor.
Notice to Contractor in Georgia
Parties who have no direct contract with a general contractor must serve the GC with a Notice to Contractor to preserve their bond claim rights. However, this requirement applies only if the general contractor files a valid Notice of Commencement.
If no Notice of Commencement is filed, no party must serve the GC with a Notice to Contractor. Note that it is still best practice to serve a Notice to Contractor on the GC, especially if you have no direct contractual relationship with them. Doing so bridges communication gaps and allows you to introduce yourself to the GC.
The deadline for serving the GC a Notice to Contractor is within 30 days of your first day of work.
When is the deadline for making a payment bond claim in Georgia?
In Georgia, the bond claim must be made no later than 90 days of the date when you last furnished services to a project. You have 1 year from the date the project is completed to file a lawsuit and enforce the bond claim.
How to make a payment bond claim in Georgia
1. Request for information at the beginning of a project
Right at the beginning of a project, you must serve a request for information on the general contractor and ask for the following details:
- The name of the surety
- The address of the surety
- A copy of the payment bond
Having these pieces of information will greatly help you in case payment disputes come up later in a project. The payment bond itself will tell you the important details about the bond terms, and knowing how to reach the surety can get you paid faster.
2. Prepare the Georgia bond claim notice
Georgia requires the following details to be included in a bond claim notice:
- The amount being claimed
- The name of the hiring party
To provide more context to your claim, you may also include the following information:
- The name of the general contractor
- Your name and address
- The name of the public entity
- A description of the services you provided to the project
3. Serve the Georgia bond claim notice
You must serve the Georgia bond claim notice on the general contractor within 90 days of the date when you last furnished services to a project. You may also choose to serve the bond claim notice on the surety, but legally you are only to deliver it to the GC.
Valid service methods include personal delivery, registered mail, and certified mail.
4. Call the general contractor and the surety to follow up
After serving your Georgia bond claim notice, it is best to call up the GC and the surety to follow up on the status of your claim. It pays to have the surety’s contact information so you can reach them directly and inquire.
Note that bond claims in Georgia expire 1 year after project completion. You must enforce a bond claim by filing a lawsuit no later than this 1-year period. If you do not receive your payment and the bond claim is not enforced, you forfeit the claim and you may no longer receive your payment.
Best practices for making a payment bond claim in Georgia
1. Serve a Request for Information at the beginning of a project
You should always make it your top priority to serve a Request for Information on the general contractor whenever you start working on a project. Ask for details about the surety and for a copy of the payment bond. Knowing these details will serve you well in case you need to make a payment bond claim.
2. Serve a Notice to Contractor
If you do not have a direct contract with the general contractor, remember to serve them with a Notice to Contractor. While this notice is only required if the GC has filed a Notice of Commencement, it can be tricky to find out whether such a Notice has indeed been recorded. To be on the safe side, serve a Georgia Notice to Contractor anyway to preserve your bond claim rights.
3. Keep track of the deadlines
Remember that the Notice to Contractor must be served within the first 30 days of working on a project. The bond claim notice itself must be served within 90 days of your last day of work, and the claim must be enforced no later than 1 year after project completion. These deadlines are strictly enforced so you must make sure that you are always on top of them.