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How to File an Oklahoma Preliminary Notice

How to File an Oklahoma Preliminary Notice

February 18, 2020

One of the most important lien-related documents is the preliminary notice. Serving the preliminary notice lets property owners know about your participation in a project and also informs them that you are aware of your lien rights. In most states, serving a valid preliminary notice is required before you can file a mechanics lien.

Oklahoma is one of the states in which certain parties must serve a preliminary notice before they can record an enforceable mechanics lien. Failing to serve a preliminary notice when required to do so can be fatal to your lien rights.

This guide walks you through the process of serving an Oklahoma preliminary notice. Read on to know which parties are required to serve this notice and to learn the steps in serving it.

Who must serve an Oklahoma preliminary notice?

Construction parties who do not have a direct contractual relationship with a property owner and who are involved in either of the following projects must serve a preliminary notice in Oklahoma:

  • Residential properties that include an owner-occupied dwelling unit
  • Non-residential properties for which your aggregate claim is more than $10,000

Note that an owner-occupied dwelling unit typically requires an owner to be already residing in the said unit. If you are working on a residential property (e.g. apartment complex) and none of the units are occupied by an owner, you are not mandated to serve an Oklahoma preliminary notice.

Also note that even if your work’s worth on a residential property with no owner-occupied dwelling is over $10,000, you are still not required to serve a preliminary notice.

There are no specific provisions that apply to parties who have a direct contract with a property owner. They may not be required to serve a preliminary notice but sending one will not do any harm. Serving a preliminary notice even if not required is still considered a good business practice as it opens communication lines to the higher-tier parties.

When to serve an Oklahoma preliminary notice

Your Oklahoma preliminary notice must be served within 75 days of your last day of work. Your last day of work is the day when you last furnished labor or materials to a property.

What happens if you fail to serve a preliminary notice in Oklahoma?

Failing to serve the Oklahoma preliminary notice will invalidate your lien rights. The 75-day deadline offers plenty of time to prepare your preliminary notice so you should be able to serve a valid preliminary notice before this deadline elapses.

Make sure that you fulfill this notice requirement if you want to protect your lien rights. Otherwise, you will not be allowed to file a mechanics lien to recover your payment in case you do not get paid.

How to serve an Oklahoma preliminary notice

1. Prepare the Oklahoma preliminary notice form
2. Serve the Oklahoma preliminary notice on the appropriate recipients

1. Prepare the Oklahoma preliminary notice form

The following information must be included in your preliminary notice form in Oklahoma:

  • A statement that the notice is a pre-lien notice
  • Your complete name, address, and telephone number
  • The last date of supplying materials, services, labor, or equipment
  • A description of the material, services, labor, or equipment furnished
  • The name and last known address of the property owner
  • The name and last known address of the party who hired you
  • The address, legal description, or location of the project property
  • A statement of the dollar amount of the services you provided
  • Your signature

There is no prescribed format and specific languages that must be included. However, all the information above must be in your preliminary notice for it to be considered valid.

2. Serve the Oklahoma preliminary notice on the appropriate recipients

The Oklahoma preliminary notice must be served on the property owner and the general contractor. You may serve the preliminary notice using certified mail with return receipt requested or by personal delivery with a delivery confirmation receipt. When the notice is mailed via certified mail, the notice is considered served on the date of mailing.

If you do not know the address of the property owner, you may send a formal written request to the general contractor asking for such information. Your request must be delivered in person (with delivery confirmation receipt) or by certified mail with return receipt requested.

The general contractor is obligated by law to respond to your request within 5 days upon receiving your request. If they do not respond with the last known address of the property owner, you are automatically exempted from serving an Oklahoma preliminary notice.

Best practices when serving an Oklahoma preliminary notice

1. Serve the preliminary notice as early as possible

You have 75 days after your last day of work to serve the preliminary notice in Oklahoma; however, you should not wait until the last minute before you finally send it to the property owner and the general contractor.

By serving the preliminary notice as early as possible, you comply with the very important lien requirement right away. Waiting until the last minute may force you to rush the process and you might not have enough time to check your preliminary notice form for errors and mistakes.

2. Verify the accuracy of your preliminary notice

The information that you write in your Oklahoma preliminary notice must be accurate. Construction parties often commit spelling mistakes (e.g. not including the correct suffix in their business name), which in turn invalidates their notice.

Aside from spelling mistakes, also make sure that the project location that you put is sufficient to identify the property. If possible, use the correct legal property description. You should also check and verify the aggregate amount of your potential lien claim; make sure that it is a reasonable estimate of your work’s worth.

3. Serve a preliminary notice even if not required

Not all parties in Oklahoma are required to serve a preliminary notice, but you are still encouraged to deliver one even if you are not obligated to do so. By serving a preliminary notice, you inform a property owner that you have indeed participated in their project. It also lets the property owner know that you are aware of your lien rights and that you are willing to exercise them should payment disputes arise.
Serving a preliminary notice allows you to open communication lines to higher parties, so you are highly advised to do it even if you are legally exempted from doing so.

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