Filing a mechanics lien is the best payment recovery method for private construction projects. Meanwhile, for public projects, project participants may file a bond claim to recover payment from delinquent clients.
Bond claim rights are governed by the Miller Act, a law that requires general contractors of public projects to furnish performance and payment bonds. Lower-tier parties such as subcontractors and material suppliers may make a claim against the payment bonds to ensure that they get paid for their hard work.
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This guide explains the process for serving the Miller Act Notice in Ohio.
- What is a Federal Miller Act Notice?
- Who can send a Miller Act Notice in Ohio?
- When do you send a Miller Act Notice in Ohio?
- How to serve a Miller Act Notice in Ohio
- Best practices for serving a Miller Act Notice in Ohio
What is a Federal Miller Act Notice?
The Federal Miller Act Notice is a notice that is served to make a claim against the payment bond furnished by the general contractor. This notice is used in public projects in which general contractors are required by law to secure a payment bond to protect the payment rights of lower-tier construction participants.
The Miller Act is a federal law, but Ohio has adopted this law to have its own “little Miller Act.” Serving a Miller Act notice in Ohio is the same as serving a bond claim notice to recover your payment from a delinquent client.
Who can send a Miller Act Notice in Ohio?
If you have no direct contract with the general contractor, you may serve a Miller Act Notice in Ohio. Parties working in public projects regardless of tier are allowed to exercise their bond claim rights in the state.
Note that general contractors do not have bond claim rights because they furnish the payment bonds themselves. They may not make a claim against the bond that they secured.
Also note that in Ohio, parties with bond claim rights must preserve their right to make a bond claim by serving a Notice of Furnishing. The Notice of Furnishing is a preliminary notice required for both private and public projects in Ohio.
When do you send a Miller Act Notice in Ohio?
The Ohio Miller Act Notice must be sent after finishing work on a project but no later than 90 days after the completion of the entire project.
How to serve a Miller Act Notice in Ohio
1. Request for information at the beginning of a project
Serve a request for information at the beginning of a project to get the following details:
- The name of the surety
- The address of the surety
- A copy of the payment bond
You must secure the name and address of the surety as they are the party that must receive your payment bond claim if you ever need to serve one. You should also get a copy of the payment bond itself so you can familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions of the bond.
There are no rules for how you must write your request for information as long as you clearly state what details you need and when you need them by. It is very important that you serve the request for information early so you have the basic details that you need right from the get-go.
2. Prepare the Ohio Miller Act Notice form
The Miller Act Notice in Ohio must contain a statement of the amount that is due to you. This amount is simply the unpaid amount that you are trying to claim.
To provide more context to your claim, you may also include the following information in your Miller Act Notice form:
- Your name and address
- The name and address of the surety
- The name and address of the general contractor
- The name and address of the party who hired you
- A description of the services that you served
- A description of the property location
3. Serve the Miller Act Notice
The Miller Act Notice form must be served on the surety. You may also choose to serve the notice on the general contractor and the contracting public entity.
The notice must be served after you have completed your work on a project but no later than 90 days after project completion. Keep this deadline in mind as deadlines are strictly enforced in Ohio.
There is no legally prescribed method for serving the Miller Act Notice in Ohio. The best, though, is to serve the notice on the surety via certified or registered mail.
4. Follow up with the surety
Once you have served the Miller Act Notice, you must follow up with the surety to confirm that they have received your payment bond claim. Also ask them if they require any additional information.
You must establish a communication line with the surety so you can gauge if you need to enforce the bond claim or not.
If the surety pays up, you do not need to enforce your bond claim. However, note that you may need to enforce the bond claim in order for you to get paid. Enforcing the bond claim means filing a lawsuit against the surety. You will need to hire legal experts to help you through this process.
A bond claim in Ohio must be enforced within 60 days of the date when the bond claim was served. Beyond this 60-day deadline, the bond claim no longer has any effect and may no longer be enforced through the court of law.
Best practices for serving a Miller Act Notice in Ohio
1. Serve a Request for Information
Serving a request for information at the beginning of a project will ensure that you have all the details you need about the payment bond. Even though you have just started working on a project and there are no payment disputes yet, it is best to be prepared and make sure that you have a copy of the bond and the surety’s name and contact information.
2. Serve a copy of the Miller Act Notice via registered or certified mail
There are no strict rules for serving the Miller Act Notice in Ohio, but it is best practice to serve it via registered or certified mail. These methods allow you to track the notice and to document that you have indeed served the document. Be sure to also keep copies of the Miller Act Notice for yourself.
3. Write the due amount on your Miller Act Notice
The Miller Act Notice form must include the amount of the due payment. Do not forget to include this statement as it is the key detail that is required to appear on your payment bond notice form. Also include other details about yourself and the project to provide more context to your payment claim.