In states like Missouri, serving a Notice of Intent is a mandatory step prior to filing a mechanics lien. This is to ensure that property owners are given a formal warning about one’s intention to file a mechanics lien, potentially allowing them to settle a payment dispute before such a claim gets recorded.
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This step-by-step guide walks you through the process of serving a valid Notice of Intent to Lien in Missouri.
Who must serve a Notice of Intent in Missouri?
Parties who have no direct contract with the property owner must serve a Notice of Intent to lien prior to filing a mechanics lien. According to Missouri statutes, these parties include subcontractors and material suppliers with no direct contractual relationship with the owner.
Note that general contractors are not obligated by law to serve a Notice of Intent to Lien in Missouri, but they can still choose to do so.
When do you serve a Missouri Notice of Intent?
The Missouri Notice of Intent must be served at least 10 days before filing a mechanics lien. Keep in mind that sending a Notice of Intent does not extend the 6-month deadline for filing a Missouri mechanics lien. Since the deadline for filing a mechanics lien in Missouri is within 6 months of your last day of work, the Notice of Intent to Lien must be served no later than 10 days before this 6-month period elapses.
What happens if you fail to serve a Missouri Notice of Intent?
Subcontractors, material suppliers, and other parties who have no direct contract with the owner and fail to serve a Notice of Intent will lose their lien rights over the project in question. Serving the notice of intent is a critical step for these parties, so failing to serve this required pre-lien notice on time is essentially equivalent to relinquishing their lien rights.
How to serve a Missouri Notice of Intent
1. Prepare the Missouri Notice of Intent form
The Notice of Intent to Lien should include the following information:
- Your name and address
- The name and address of the property owner
- The name and address of the party who hired you
- A description of the property location sufficient for identification
- A description of the labor and materials you provided to the project
- The unpaid amount to be claimed with a mechanics lien
You should also include a clear statement saying that you intend to record a mechanics lien in 10 days if payment is not made.
2. Serve the Notice of Intent
Serving the Missouri Notice of Intent must be done via the county sheriff’s office. Service fees vary per county, so you may want to call the sheriff’s office ahead to know the exact cost for serving a Notice of Intent in your county.
If the property owner lives out of state or if they cannot be found, you may file the Notice of Intent in the recorder’s office of the county where the property is located. The filing fees also vary depending on the county, but they usually range between $21.00 to $24.00 for the first page, plus $3.00 for additional pages.
Note that the Missouri Notice of Intent must be served at least 10 days before filing the mechanics lien, and no later than 10 days before the mechanics lien filing deadline. This filing deadline falls on the 6th month after your last day of work.
Best practices for serving a Missouri Notice of Intent
1. Serve a Missouri Notice of Intent to Lien early
To avoid potential compliance issues, it is best practice to serve a Notice of Intent to Lien early. Do not wait until the last minute because you might risk missing the deadline altogether. The deadline for filing a mechanics lien will not get extended if you serve a notice of intent late, so be sure to fulfill this requirement way before the deadline.
2. Make your intention to record a mechanics lien clear
The notice of intent must clearly state your plan to file a mechanics lien if payment is not made within 10 days. This intention should be properly communicated to the property owner so they know that they are being given an ultimatum and a final chance to settle the payment dispute before a mechanics lien is filed against their property.
3. File a Missouri mechanics lien if you still do not receive your payment
If serving a notice of intent does not prompt the property owner to release your payment, then you should go ahead and file a Missouri mechanics lien. Filing a mechanics lien is the most effective method to recover payment from delinquent clients. You will have a better chance of getting paid once you record a mechanics lien.