Serving a preliminary notice is crucial to protecting your lien rights. In most states, failing to serve the required pre-lien notices often results in your losing your right to file a mechanics lien.
The same applies in Connecticut, where there are at least two important pre-lien notices that you must keep in mind: the Notice of Intent to Lien and the General Contractor Affidavit. A Notice of Intent to Lien is mandatory for all parties that have no direct contractual relationship with a property owner, while a General Contractor Affidavit is an optional notice from general contractors.
This detailed guide will walk you through the process of serving and recording these two documents.
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Required preliminary notices in Connecticut
Only the Notice of Intent to Lien is mandatory in Connecticut, and it is required from all parties that are not in direct contact with the property owner.
A General Contractor Affidavit is another pre-lien notice in Connecticut, but it applies to all general contractors and it is not mandatory.
What is a Notice of Intent to Lien?
A Notice of Intent to Lien is essentially a document that informs property owners about your plans to file a mechanics lien against their property.
This is an important notice because it lets property owners know that there is an unsettled payment dispute concerning their property. Sometimes, property owners lose track of which parties are working on their project, so letting them know that you are still yet to receive payment could prompt them to take action and settle the debt.
When to serve the Connecticut Notice of Intent to Lien
A Connecticut Notice of Intent to Lien must be served within 90 days after your last day of furnishing materials or servicing labor to a project.
Consequences of not serving a Connecticut Notice of Intent to Lien
Because a Notice of Intent to Lien is a required pre-lien notice in Connecticut, the consequence of failing to serve it on time is losing your lien rights. This means that even if you try to record a mechanics lien to recover your payment, your mechanics lien will be declared invalid on the grounds of you not complying with the mandatory notice requirement.
How to serve a Connecticut Notice of Intent to Lien
1. Prepare the Notice of Intent to Lien form
Unlike other states, Connecticut does not have a legally prescribed list of information that must be included in your Notice of Intent to Lien. Most Notice of Intent to Liens, however, have the following details:
- Your name and address
- The name and address of the party that hired you
- The name and address of the property owner
- A brief description of the services that you rendered on a project
- The amount owed to you
You must include a clear statement that you plan to claim a lien on the property to explicitly make your intentions clear.
2. Serve the Notice of Intent to Lien
Serving a Notice of Intent to Lien in Connecticut must be done within 90 days of your last day of work, and it must be done via personal delivery or certified mail.
In Connecticut, a Notice of Intent to Lien is considered served when the intended recipient has acknowledge receipt of the notice. Note that if the notice is unclaimed and gets mailed back to you, you must serve the notice by publication.
The notice must be served on the property owner and the general contractor, if the general contractor filed a General Contractor Affidavit. Otherwise, only the property owner is the required recipient of this notice.
What is a General Contractor Affidavit?
A General Contractor Affidavit is a different pre-lien notice that a General Contractor may file in the county recorder’s office. This document is not mandatory for general contractors.
Even if not required, filing a General Contractor Affidavit is important because it makes a general contractor one of the required recipients of a Notice of Intent to Lien. This means that you will get notified if a lien is about to be filed on a property.
Filing this affidavit is beneficial for general contractors because most general contractors are required to keep a project lien-free. They will also be able to settle outstanding debts before a payment dispute gets escalated to a full-blown mechanics lien and they possibly get involved with a bigger contractual issue with a property owner.
When to file a Connecticut General Contractor Affidavit
A General Contractor Affidavit must be filed within 15 days of the GC’s first day of work. This first day of work corresponds to the first day they furnish materials or service to a project.
Consequences of not filing a Connecticut General Contractor Affidavit
There are no serious consequences if a general contractor fails to file this affidavit. The only downside is that they will not be one of the mandatory recipients of a Notice of Intent to Lien. In general, however, it is considered good practice to still file an affidavit.
How to file a Connecticut General Contractor Affidavit
1. Prepare your General Contractor Affidavit document
Only the following information must be in your general contractor affidavit document:
- the general contractor’s legal business name
- the general contractor’s business address
- a description of the building, lot, or plot of land of the project
2. Have your document notarized
Once you have all the information ready and laid out in a type-written document, you must have that document notarized. The point of having an affidavit is it must be sworn under oath, so sign your document in the presence of a notarizing officer.
3. File your General Contractor affidavit in the county recorder’s office
Once your affidavit is ready, you have to file it in the recorder’s office of the county where the project is located. Unlike a Notice of Intent to Lien, this notice is not served or delivered to any recipient; it is recorded in the local clerk’s office for filing purposes.
Best practices in serving a pre-lien notice in Connecticut
1. Serve a General Contractor affidavit even if not required
A General Contractor affidavit seems like an extra step that is not necessary for general contractors but filing it may be more beneficial than you think.
When you file a valid GC Affidavit, you will receive a Notice of Intent to Lien if one of your subcontractors or suppliers decide to file a lien. This will give you time to sort the payment dispute before it escalates to a full-blown mechanics lien.
2. Be prompt in serving the Notice of Intent to Lien
You have 90 days after your last day of work to serve a Notice of Intent to Lien, but you should try to serve a Notice of Intent to Lien before the deadline. This gives a property owner time to understand the payment concern, which may get you paid sooner than you expect.
3. Ensure that you have documented proof that the Notice of Intent to Lien has been received
Because a Notice of Intent to Lien is considered served upon delivery, make sure that you have proof that the intended recipients of your notice have received the document. Either have them sign an acknowledgment receipt or secure a return receipt from the post office.
This notice is mandatory so make sure that you have proof that you have complied with this requirement.