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How to Serve Mississippi Pre-Lien Notices

How to Serve Mississippi Pre-Lien Notices

January 6, 2020

Before you can file a valid mechanics lien in any state, you most probably have to serve a pre-lien notice. Serving the required pre-lien notices not only protects your lien rights, but it also opens the communication lines between you and the higher-tier parties with whom you do not have a direct contractual relationship.

In Mississippi, parties who are not in direct contact with a property owner or a general contractor must serve a specific pre-lien notice, depending on the type of project they are working on. Property owners and general contractors also have the right to request for a list of subcontractors and materialmen working on their property, just so they know which parties are entitled to file a mechanics lien if payment issues arise down the road.

This guide will tell you all the basic information that you must know about the pre-lien notices in Mississippi, from what parties are required to serve which type of pre-lien notice to the specific steps on how to prepare and deliver them.

Pre-lien notices in Mississippi

There are three important pre-lien notices in Mississippi: a regular preliminary notice, a notice of intent to lien, and a list of subcontractors and materialmen working under you, if applicable.

Not all these notices are required for all construction parties. You must, however, know which notice applies to you because failing to serve these notices properly and on time will result in the invalidation of your mechanics lien rights.

Which parties must serve what pre-lien notices in Mississippi?

Preliminary Notice

A Mississippi preliminary notice must be served by all parties who have no direct contract with a property owner or a general contractor. This includes subcontractors, sub-subcontractors, and lower-tier material suppliers who have no direct contractual relationship with either a general contractor or a property owner.

If you are working on a project with no general contractor but you have no direct contract with a property owner, you will also be required to serve the Mississippi preliminary notice.

An exemption to this rule applies to parties working on single-family residential buildings. If you are working in single-family residential property, you do not have to serve a regular preliminary notice to protect your lien rights.

Notice of Intent to Lien

A Notice of Intent to Lien must be served by all subcontractors and material suppliers who have no direct contractual relationship with the property owner of a single-family residential building. In other words, if you are working on a single-family residential project, you will have to serve a Notice of Intent to Lien but not a regular preliminary notice.

Note that a Notice of Intent to Lien is different from a preliminary notice, at least when it comes to their respective purposes.

A Notice of Intent to Lien notifies a property owner that a mechanics lien on their property is about to be recorded, which implies that a payment issue has already arisen. A preliminary notice, on the other hand, informs higher-tier parties of your participation in a project so they can keep track of which parties may file a mechanics lien in case a payment dispute comes up.

List of Subcontractors and Material Suppliers

A list of subcontractors and material suppliers is required only when you receive a written request from a property owner or a general contractor to provide them with such information. This document is therefore not a hard-and-fast requirement until you receive a request from a request by registered or certified mail or statutory overnight delivery.

Whether you’re a general contractor or a subcontractor, if you receive a request from a higher-tier party asking for a list of all the lower-tier parties working under you, you have to serve them this list.

When to serve a Mississippi preliminary notice

A regular preliminary notice must be served within 30 days of your first day of work, which corresponds to the day you first furnished labor or materials to a project.

A Notice of Intent to Lien must be served at least 10 days before you officially file your Mississippi mechanics lien.

A list of subcontractors and material suppliers must be served “within a reasonable time” after receiving the written request from a property owner or a general contractor. It is best practice to serve this document right away to avoid complications.

What happens if you fail to serve the required pre-lien notices in Mississippi?

Failing to serve a regular preliminary notice and a Notice of Intent to Lien when required will automatically result in the forfeiture of your lien rights. You essentially waive your right to file a mechanics lien if you do not serve these notices when the law mandates you to do so.

Failing to furnish a property owner or a general contractor a list of all subcontractors and materialmen working for you will also result in the invalidation of your lien rights. You will not be allowed to file a valid mechanics lien if you do not fulfill this requirement upon receiving a written request from an owner or a general contractor.

How to serve Mississippi pre-lien notices

How to serve a Mississippi pre-lien notice

1. Prepare your Mississippi pre-lien notice forms

Both the regular Mississippi preliminary notice and the Notice of Intent to Lien must contain the following information:

  •        The name, address, and telephone number of the person providing labor, services or materials;
  •        The name and address of each person to whom labor, services, or materials are provided;
  •        The name of the project and location of the project to which labor, services or materials are provided; and
  •         A description of the labor, services or materials being provided

When sending a preliminary notice, you must also include the contract price or anticipated value of the labor, services or materials, if this amount is known.

When sending a Notice of Intent to Lien, you must include the contract price or the total amount that you will be claiming in your mechanics lien.

The list of subcontractors and materialmen is a straightforward document that contains all parties that are in direct contract with you.

2. Serve your Mississippi pre-lien notices

The Mississippi preliminary notice must be served by registered or certified mail, or statutory overnight delivery. It may also be served via email, but this will only be valid if there is a confirmed receipt.

The Notice of Intent to Lien must be served by “any reliable means of delivery,” according to Mississippi lien statute § 85-7-409(2). It is, however, best practice to serve your Notice of Intent to Lien via registered or certified mail with return receipt requested.

There is no prescribed method for serving the list of subcontractors and materialmen, but serving it via registered or certified mail with return receipt requested should be enough.

Also take note of the notice deadlines that apply to each Mississippi pre-lien document. Note that you must not only include all the necessary details in your notice in order for it to be valid, but you must also serve it on time.

Mississippi pre-lien notice deadlines

Best practices when serving Mississippi pre-lien notices

1. Know which notice requirement applies to you

Mississippi notice requirements are relatively complicated considering that different parties have to follow different rules. Know that if you have no contract with a property owner or a general contractor, you have to serve a Mississippi preliminary notice. An exception applies if you are working on a single-family residential property, in which case you have to serve a Notice of Intent to Lien before you file your mechanics lien.

If you receive a written request asking for a list of subcontractors and materialmen working for you – regardless of your role in a project or if you have or do not have a contract with a higher-tier party – you must furnish the requesting party the list.

2. Serve the required notice way before the deadline

It is considered a good business practice to serve your notices way before the deadline. Waiting until the last minute might cause you to commit errors with your form, and simple mistakes like misspelling a business name have resulted in the invalidation of one’s lien rights.

Serving the list of subcontractors and materialmen has no definite deadline but you should furnish it as soon as you can. Keep in mind that failing to serve any of these three notices on time will cost you your lien rights, so it is best to serve them before the deadline lapses.

3. Ensure that you have documented proof of service

It is always a good practice to organize your documents and keep track of which notices have been served. By keeping your mailing receipts, you ensure that you have documented proof that you have complied with Mississippi’s notice requirements.

Having the necessary receipts will make your payment claim stronger in case a payment dispute arises and you end up having to record an actual mechanics lien.

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