Pennsylvania is among the few states that require potential lien claimants to serve a Notice of Intent to Lien. This notice does exactly as the name suggests: it notifies a property owner about the sender’s intention to record a mechanics lien. As such, it gives the property owner a chance to settle the payment dispute before the mechanics lien gets recorded.
Like most states, Pennsylvania has rules and requirements for serving a valid Notice of Intent to Lien. This guide explains these rules and answers basic questions about serving an effective Notice of Intent to Lien in Pennsylvania.
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- Who must serve a Notice of Intent in Pennsylvania?
- When do you serve a Pennsylvania Notice of Intent?
- What happens if you fail to serve a Pennsylvania Notice of Intent?
- How to serve a Pennsylvania Notice of Intent
- Best practices for serving a Pennsylvania Notice of Intent
Who must serve a Notice of Intent in Pennsylvania?
Potential lien claimants who have no direct contract with the property owner are required to serve a Notice of Intent to Lien in Pennsylvania. This means that subcontractors and material suppliers must give a Notice of Intent to the property owner before they can record a valid mechanics lien.
When do you serve a Pennsylvania Notice of Intent?
The Notice of Intent in Pennsylvania must be served at least 30 days before filing a mechanics lien. Note that the deadline for filing a mechanics lien in Pennsylvania falls on the 6th month after your last day of providing services to a project. You must then serve the Notice of Intent no later than 30 days before this 6-month period passes.
Also note that these deadlines are strictly enforced in Pennsylvania. Serving a late Notice of Intent to Lien is not accepted and will be fatal to your lien rights.
What happens if you fail to serve a Pennsylvania Notice of Intent?
If you are required to serve a Notice of Intent to Lien and you failed to do so, you will not be allowed to file a valid mechanics lien against the property you worked on. You essentially lose your lien rights, which means that you cannot record a mechanics lien if you ever need to recover your payment.
How to serve a Pennsylvania Notice of Intent
1. Prepare the Pennsylvania Notice of Intent form
According to Pennsylvania statutes, the Notice of Intent to Lien form must have the following details:
- The name of the party claimant;
- The name of the person with whom they contracted;
- The amount claimed to be due;
- The general nature or character of the labor or materials furnished;
- The date of completion of the work;
- A brief description sufficient to identify the property location.
Be sure that all pieces of information mentioned above are included in your Pennsylvania Notice of Intent, and also ensure that you explicitly express your intention to file a mechanics lien. Remember that the point of serving a Notice of Intent is to inform the property owner about your plan to record a mechanics lien and to give them an ultimatum before you go ahead and file your claim.
2. Serve the Notice of Intent form
Once your Pennsylvania Notice of Intent form is ready, you must serve it on the property owner. You may also serve the notice on the general contractor but, legally speaking, you are only required to send the document to the owner of the property.
Serving the Notice of Intent may be done via registered or certified mail, first class mail, or personal delivery. If you decide to serve the Notice of Intent via personal delivery, be sure to get the property owner to sign an acknowledgment of receipt form. It is a good business practice to always have documented proof that shows when the property owner has received the notice.
Another important aspect to keep in mind is the deadline. The Notice of Intent must be served at least 30 days prior to filing a mechanics lien. Note that serving the Notice of Intent to Lien in Pennsylvania will not extend the mechanics lien deadline. Since the deadline for filing a mechanics lien is on the 6th month after your last day of work, the Notice of Intent must be served at least 30 days before this deadline.
Best practices for serving a Pennsylvania Notice of Intent
1. Serve the Pennsylvania Notice of Intent to Lien early
Always err on the side of caution and do not wait until the last minute to serve your Pennsylvania Notice of Intent to Lien. Serving this notice late may cause you to miss the deadline, which can consequently cause you to accidentally relinquish your lien rights. Do not take this risk and instead just simply serve the Notice of Intent to Lien early.
2. Include all the required details in your Notice of Intent
Pennsylvania requires certain information to be included in the Notice of Intent to Lien, including your contact information, a description of the services you provided to the project, and the date when you completed your work. These important details must be written on the form and correctly. Verify the accuracy of the information that you write and make sure that there are no spelling or typographical errors.
3. File a Pennsylvania mechanics lien if payment issues persist
A Notice of Intent to Lien is simply a notice that serves as an ultimatum to the property owner. If your claim remains unpaid, you must escalate the issue and file a mechanics lien as intended. The Pennsylvania mechanics lien is going to be more effective in getting your clients to produce payment – you just have to make sure that you follow all the rules on how to properly file it.