Preliminary notices are important notices that preserve the lien rights of a potential lien claimant. In Pennsylvania, one of the most important preliminary notices is the Notice of Furnishing. Only certain parties are required to file this preliminary notice, and failure to do so can be fatal to their lien rights.
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This step-by-step guide explains the process for filing a Pennsylvania Notice of Furnishing and provides tips to ensure you submit a valid document.
- Who must file a preliminary notice in Pennsylvania?
- When do you file a Pennsylvania Notice of Furnishing?
- What happens if you fail to file a Pennsylvania preliminary notice?
- How to serve a Pennsylvania preliminary notice?
- Best practices for serving a Pennsylvania preliminary notice
Who must file a preliminary notice in Pennsylvania?
You are required to file a Notice of Furnishing in Pennsylvania if you meet all of the following criteria:
- You have no direct contract with the property owner (i.e., you are a subcontractor or a material supplier).
- Your contract is worth over $1.5 million.
- You are working on a project whose owner has filed a valid Notice of Commencement.
If you meet all of the conditions above, you are mandated by law to file a Notice of Furnishing. Note that this preliminary notice is filed through the state construction registry and not simply served on the property owner.
Also note that this preliminary notice is not the same as the Notice of Intent to Lien. A Notice of Furnishing is a preliminary notice that you file to preserve your lien rights. A Notice of Intent, on the other hand, is a separate notice that you will be required to serve once payment disputes arise and you plan to file a mechanics lien.
When do you file a Pennsylvania Notice of Furnishing?
If required, the Notice of Furnishing must be filed through the state construction registry within 45 days of the date when you first provided labor or materials to a project. This deadline is strictly enforced and may not be extended.
What happens if you fail to file a Pennsylvania preliminary notice?
If you are required to file a Pennsylvania Notice of Furnishing and you fail to do so, you will lose your lien rights over the project in question. Losing your lien rights means that if payment disputes come up, you will not be allowed to file a mechanics lien in order to recover your payment from your client.
How to serve a Pennsylvania preliminary notice?
1. Prepare the Pennsylvania preliminary notice form
To prepare the Pennsylvania Notice of Furnishing form, be sure to collect the following information, as required by Pennsylvania laws:
- A general description of the labor or materials furnished
- The full name and address of the person supplying the services or items
- The full name and address of the person that contracted for the services or items
- A description sufficient to identify the Searchable Project, based on the description in the Notice of Commencement
- The name of the county in which the Searchable Project is located
- The tax identification number of each parcel included in the project property
- The number of the building permit for the Searchable Project
The Notice of Furnishing must also substantially be in the following format:
Note that even though the form above does not require the name of the county, tax ID, and building permit number, section 501.5 of Pennsylvania laws says that those pieces of information must be included.
2. File the Pennsylvania preliminary notice through the construction registry
The Pennsylvania Notice of Furnishing must be filed and not simply served on the property owner, unlike preliminary notices in other states. Filing this preliminary notice is done via the Pennsylvania State Construction Notice Registry.
Note that, if required, the Notice of Furnishing must be filed within 45 days of starting work on a project. Also note that this deadline may not be extended, so the preliminary notice may not be filed late. Be aware that filing late will revoke your lien rights.
Also note that when you file the preliminary notice through the state construction registry, a copy of the notice is given to the property owner. You may also choose to serve a copy of the preliminary notice on the property owner through personal delivery or by mail.
Best practices for serving a Pennsylvania preliminary notice
1. File the Pennsylvania preliminary notice on time
Not all construction participants are required to file a preliminary notice in Pennsylvania, but those who are must keep in mind that the deadline for filing the Notice of Furnishing is strictly enforced. Filing a Notice of Furnishing late is not acceptable and will cause you to lose your lien rights.
2. Serve a Notice of Intent to Lien before filing a mechanics lien
A Notice of Furnishing is not the same as a Notice of Intent to Lien. Other than general contractors, all construction parties, regardless of contract amount, must serve a Notice of Intent prior to recording a mechanics lien.
3. File a mechanics lien if payment issues are not settled
Both the Notice of Furnishing and the Notice of Intent are simply pre-lien notices, and they are different from an actual mechanics lien. If you want to strengthen your leverage during payment negotiations, you should file a Pennsylvania mechanics lien to fully exercise your lien rights.