How to File a New York Preliminary Notice (& Why You Should Send One) | Handle

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How to File a New York Preliminary Notice (& Why You Should Send One)

How to File a New York Preliminary Notice (& Why You Should Send One)

August 5, 2020

Serving a preliminary notice prior to filing a mechanics lien is mandatory in many states. If a potential lien claimant fails to serve a valid preliminary notice on time, they will most likely lose their lien rights in their ongoing project.

There are states, however, that do not require preliminary notices at all. In New York, for instance, construction participants such as general contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers do not have to serve a preliminary notice before they can file a mechanics lien.

Send a New York Preliminary Notice in 60 seconds

Send a New York Preliminary Notice in 60 seconds

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Still, there are benefits to serving a preliminary notice even if the state does not require you to do so. This guide explains why and how you should serve a New York preliminary notice to ensure that you get paid for your hard work.

Why serve a New York preliminary notice?

Delivering a preliminary notice to the property owner is not only a matter of fulfilling a statutory requirement. There are also perks that come with serving a preliminary notice even when doing so is not required.

For example, serving a preliminary notice in New York informs a property owner about your participation in their project. Lower-tier construction participants will greatly benefit from this. When you serve a New York preliminary notice, the property owner will know that you are part of their project and that you are well aware of your lien rights.

On top of that, serving a New York preliminary notice on the property owner also opens communication lines between you and them. No matter what your role is on a project, it is always important to establish open communication with the owner so you know whom to negotiate with in case any issue comes up in the course of a project.

Also, keep in mind that serving a preliminary notice in “non-notice” states will not take too much of your time. There are no statutory forms to follow and no fixed rules on preparing your preliminary notice in New York. The benefits, therefore, outweigh the cost of delivering a preliminary notice even if you are not mandated by the state to do so.

When must you serve a New York preliminary notice?

Since New York does not require its construction participants to serve a preliminary notice, there are no associated deadlines for serving this document. However, it is best practice to hand a preliminary notice to the property owner right on your first day of work, or at least within the first week.

How to serve a New York preliminary notice

How to serve a New York preliminary notice

1. Prepare the New York preliminary notice form

There is no statutory template for the New York preliminary notice. However, a typical preliminary notice has the following details:

  • Your name and address
  • The name and address of the property owner, if known
  • The name and address of the general contractor
  • The name and address of the party who hired you, if different from the general contractor
  • A brief description of the services that you will furnish to the project
  • A description of the property location (e.g. street address)
  • A statement saying that you are willing to seek legal remedies such as filing a mechanics lien if you do not get paid

Note that a New York preliminary notice is not an adversarial document that tries to intimidate an owner. A preliminary notice is one of the most common construction documents in the business, and serving one simply lets a property owner know that they are working with a professional who is aware of their lien rights.

2. Deliver the New York preliminary notice to the property owner

There are no rules on how you must deliver your New York preliminary notice form. You may send it through certified mail with return receipt requested, or personally deliver it to the property owner. You may also serve a preliminary notice on the general contractor.

Keep in mind that there is no fixed deadline by which you must serve a preliminary notice in New York. If you can, make it a business practice to serve a preliminary notice right on your first day of work. This way, the higher-tier parties will know right away about your participation in their project.

Best practices when serving a preliminary notice in New York

1. Serve a preliminary notice even if you are not required to do so

As mentioned, serving a preliminary notice has benefits even if it is not your legal obligation to do so. It demonstrates professionalism and establishes communication lines between you and the higher-tier parties in a project.

Send a preliminary notice now

If payment disputes come up, having served a preliminary notice could benefit your claim because the property owner and the higher-tier contractors already know who you are and that you are willing to exercise your lien rights.

2. Deliver a preliminary notice on your first day of work

In any state, serving a preliminary notice as soon as possible is always a good idea. If you serve your New York preliminary notice on your first day of work, you are able to complete a simple task right away. Following a routine can make your business processes more efficient, so try to deliver your preliminary notice immediately if you can.

Reminder on New York preliminary notice

3. Do not forget to file a New York mechanics lien if necessary

Remember that the preliminary notice is not the same as a mechanics lien. If you do not receive the payment that you are supposed to receive on the date agreed upon, file a New York mechanics lien so you can have better leverage during payment negotiations. Recording a New York mechanics lien is a completely different process that every construction professional in New York must be familiar with.

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