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Massachusetts Notice of Subcontract: Requirements and Best Practices

Massachusetts Notice of Subcontract: Requirements and Best Practices

May 7, 2020

A mechanics lien is the most effective weapon that any construction professional can use against delinquent clients.  A mechanics lien is able to limit a property’s market value because it informs potential financiers and buyers about the outstanding debts related to it.

In Massachusetts, filing a mechanics lien is generally considered a two-step process. If a Massachusetts subcontractor wants to file a mechanics lien, they must first record a document called Notice of Subcontract. This guide tackles all the basic information and tips that you will need to file a valid Notice of Subcontract in Massachusetts.

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Need to file a mechanics lien in Massachusetts?

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What is a Massachusetts Notice of Subcontract?

A Massachusetts Notice of Subcontract is a document that you need to file when you want to record a mechanics lien against a property. It is the first of two documents that you must record in Massachusetts so you can have a mechanics lien claim.

All subcontractors and material suppliers can enforce a Massachusetts mechanics lien only if a Notice of Subcontract and a Statement of Account, the second important document, have been filed.

Who can file a Massachusetts Notice of Subcontract?

The Notice of Subcontract may be filed by any construction party who has no direct contractual relationship with the property owner. These parties include subcontractors, sub-subcontractors, as well as material suppliers.

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When must a subcontractor file a Massachusetts Notice of Subcontract?

A subcontractor in Massachusetts must file a Notice of Subcontract by the earliest among the following timeframes:

When to file a Massachusetts Notice of Subcontract

Note that you may record a Notice of Subcontract at any time once a payment dispute has occurred. This means that you do not have to wait until a property owner files a Notice of Substantial Completion or a Notice of Termination.

If a payment delay or dispute happens and you want to increase your leverage during payment negotiations, you can file a Notice of Subcontract right away, assuming that you have protected your lien rights by serving the applicable preliminary notice.

Why file a Massachusetts Notice of Subcontract?

Filing a Notice of Subcontract in Massachusetts is the first step in recording a valid mechanics lien against a property. You have to file it if you want to have a higher chance of recovering payment from a delinquent client.

Keep in mind that a mechanics lien can actually hamper a property’s funding and potential sale to customers. When you record a mechanics lien, the lien becomes publicly accessible so potential buyers and financiers can see that there are still outstanding payments associated with that property. Owners are then more likely to step in and release payment if there is a mechanics lien in the picture.

In short, filing a Massachusetts Notice of Subcontract greatly improves your chances of receiving the compensation that you worked hard to earn.

How to file a Notice of Subcontract

How to file a Notice of Subcontract

1. Prepare the Massachusetts Notice of Subcontract

The Notice of Subcontract form in Massachusetts must have the following details:

  • Your name and address
  • The name and address of the party who hired you
  • The name and address of the general contractor
  • The name and address of the property owner
  • A description of the property location that is sufficient for identification (e.g. street address or legal property description)
  • The amount of payment that you are claiming

Massachusetts recommends all parties to write their Notice of Subcontract in substantially the following form:

Notice is hereby given that by virtue of a written contract

dated , between ___ ___ contractor (or subcontractor) and ___ said ___ is to furnish or has furnished labor or material, or both labor and material, or is to furnish or has furnished rental equipment, appliances or tools, or is to perform or has performed professional services, in the erection, alteration, repair or removal of a building, structure or other improvement of real property by , contractor, for , owner, on a lot of land or other interest in real property described as follows:

(Insert description)

As of the date of this notice, an account of said contract is as follows:

contract price $______________
agreed change orders $______________

(indicate whether addition or subtraction)

pending change orders: $______________

(indicate whether addition or subtraction)

disputed claims $______________

(indicate whether addition or subtraction)

payments received $______________

The regular mailing address of the party recording or filing this notice is as follows: ____

Make sure that you include all the required information, including the amounts needed for the payment breakdown. Do not include attorney fees and other lien-related costs to pad your mechanics lien claim as that may cause your Notice of Subcontract to be revoked.

2. Record the Massachusetts Notice of Subcontract

When the Notice of Subcontract form is ready, you have to file it in the Registry of Deeds in the same location where the project is located. You may visit the office and file the Massachusetts Notice of Subcontract in person, or you may mail the document together with the exact amount of filing fees. You can call the Registry of Deeds beforehand to know how much exactly you have to pay to file a Notice of Subcontract in your area.

Remember that there is a strict deadline for filing a Notice of Subcontract. Your Massachusetts Notice of Subcontract must be recorded by the earliest among these dates:

  • 60 days after the property owner filed a Notice of Substantial Completion;
  • 90 days after the property owner files a Notice of Termination; or
  • 90 days after the last day when you furnished labor or materials to a project.

Your Notice of Subcontract will be invalidated if you file it beyond the appropriate deadline, so always be mindful of these dates.

3. Serve a copy of the Notice of Subcontract on the property owner

In Massachusetts, a copy of the Notice of Subcontract must be served on the property owner after it has been filed. You may serve a Notice of Subcontract via certified mail with return receipt requested.

Always keep copies of the mailing and return receipts to ensure that you can prove your compliance with Massachusetts mechanics lien requirements. The validity of a mechanics lien may be questioned over minor mistakes, so it is best to be diligent and follow all the rules to the tee.

Best practices when filing a Notice of Subcontract

1. Be mindful of the Notice of Subcontract filing deadline

Construction participants often get confused about the Massachusetts mechanics lien deadlines. There are three deadlines for filing the Notice of Subcontract, but you have to file yours by the earliest date among the three.

Generally, the deadline is within 90 days after your last day of work. This deadline can, however, change if the property owner files a Notice of Substantial Completion or a Notice of Termination. Keep open communication with the higher-tier parties so you are fully aware of which Notice of Subcontract deadline is applicable to your situation.

2. Verify the accuracy of the details you write on your Notice of Subcontract form

When preparing the Massachusetts Notice of Subcontract form, make sure that you double-check all the information. Small errors like spelling mistakes can be grounds for the nullification of your mechanics lien claim, so always verify the accuracy of the information that you write on any of your lien-related forms.

3. Do not forget to file a Massachusetts Statement of Account

It is very important to remember that filing a Massachusetts mechanics lien is a two-step process. After you record your Notice of Subcontract, you also have to file your Statement of Account. Do not forget to file this second document. Even if your Notice of Subcontract is perfectly valid, you cannot enforce a Massachusetts mechanics lien if you do not record a Massachusetts Statement of Account.

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