Construction professionals typically serve preliminary notices on property owners to preserve their lien rights. In most cases, failing to serve a valid preliminary notice can prohibit a construction project participant from filing and perfecting a mechanics lien.
The same rule applies in Rhode Island. In the state, a preliminary notice – also known as Notice of Intention or Notice of Intent – must be delivered to the property owner before recording a mechanics lien.
Note that unlike in other states, the Rhode Island preliminary notice and the Rhode Island mechanics lien are essentially the same document. This document is first served on the owner as a preliminary notice, and if the payment debt is still unsettled, it gets filed with the county’s recorder of deeds.
This guide details the process for properly serving a valid Rhode Island preliminary notice.
- Who must serve a preliminary notice in Rhode Island?
- When do you serve a Rhode Island preliminary notice?
- What happens if you fail to serve a Rhode Island preliminary notice?
- How to serve a Rhode Island preliminary notice
- Best practices for serving a Rhode Island preliminary notice
Who must serve a preliminary notice in Rhode Island?
All potential lien claimants are required to serve a preliminary notice on the property owner. As mentioned, it is technically the first step in recording a Rhode Island mechanics lien. Whether you are a general contractor, subcontractor, or a material supplier, you should serve a preliminary notice before you can file a valid mechanics lien in Rhode Island.
When do you serve a Rhode Island preliminary notice?
The Rhode Island Notice of Intent must be served on the property owner within 200 days of the date you last furnished labor or materials to a project. Note that this is the same time period for serving a valid Rhode Island mechanics lien.
What happens if you fail to serve a Rhode Island preliminary notice?
You will not be able to record a valid mechanics lien in Rhode Island without first serving the Notice of Intent on the property owner. You forfeit your lien rights if you fail to serve a preliminary notice and perfect a mechanics lien within the 200-day filing period.
How to serve a Rhode Island preliminary notice
1. Prepare the Rhode Island preliminary notice form
According to Rhode Island laws, the Notice of Intent must have the following details:
- The name of the owner of record of the land at the time of the mailing, or in the case of a lien against the interest of any lessee or tenant, the name of the lessee or tenant
- The mailing address of the owner or lessee – the name and address to be located at the upper left-hand corner of the notice, in addition to the text of the notice
- A general description of the land sufficient to identify it with reasonable certainty, including, for example only, street name and number, if available;
- A general description of the nature of the work done or to be done, or of the materials furnished, or to be furnished, or both, and their approximate value as of the date of the notice;
- The name and address of the person or persons for whom directly the work has been done or is to be done, or to whom directly the materials have been furnished or are to be furnished;
- The name and address of the person mailing the notice and the name of the individual person or persons whose signature will bind the person so mailing on all matters pertaining to the notice or any lien claimed thereunder, or release thereof.
- A statement that the person mailing the notice has not been paid for the work done or materials furnished or both.
Rhode Island laws also provide the following preliminary notice template:
(Name of owner of record/Lessee)
(Address of owner/Lessee)
NOTICE OF INTENTION TO DO WORK OR FURNISH MATERIALS, OR BOTH
All persons are hereby notified that the undersigned has within the two hundred (200) days prior to the mailing hereof done work, furnished materials, or both, and/or intends to do so in the future (cross out inappropriate words), in the construction, erection, alteration, or preparation of an improvement on land described as follows: (here insert description) and that the land is owned by or leased to (here insert name of owner or lessee or tenant). The nature of the work being done or materials being furnished is as follows: (here insert general description of the nature of the work or materials, or both) and is being done for or furnished to (here insert name of person or persons for whom directly the work is being done or to whom directly the materials are being furnished), whose address is (here insert address).
The approximate value of said work or materials is, as of the date of the notice, $(include amount), itemized as follows: and the undersigned has not been paid for the work or materials or both;
The undersigned authorizes (here insert name or names) to act or sign documents in behalf of the undersigned in all matters pertaining to this notice, or any lien claimed hereunder, or release thereof.
You are hereby informed that the undersigned may within two hundred (200) days of the performance of the work or furnishing of the materials, file in the records of land evidence of the city or town of (here insert name of city or town) a copy of this notice of intention to do work or furnish materials. The filing of the notice of intention, together with this mailing, will perfect a lien against the land described herein, under and subject to the provisions of the Rhode Island Mechanics’ Lien Law.
(Name and address of person
Signed and sworn before me this ………… day of ……………………,
Note that your Notice of Intention in Rhode Island must substantially be in the same form as shown above. Also note that it must be notarized in order to be valid.
2. Deliver the preliminary notice to the property owner
When your Rhode Island preliminary notice form is all filled out, you need to deliver it to the property owner via certified mail with return receipt requested.
Remember that the deadline for serving this preliminary notice is within 200 days of the date you last furnished services to a project. Keep in mind that this 200-day period is the same timeframe for filing and perfecting a mechanics lien with the recorder of deeds. Be sure to serve the preliminary notice earlier so you can still file the Notice of Intention with the recorder of deeds on time.
Best practices for serving a Rhode Island preliminary notice
1. Prepare the preliminary notice form early
It is very important to keep in mind that the deadline for serving the preliminary notice is the same as the deadline for filing a mechanics lien; however, serving the Notice of Intention on the property owner must be done prior to recording your lien.
This means that you need to prepare and serve the preliminary notice way before the 200-day deadline elapses. If payment is not made, you will still have enough time to record a valid mechanics lien.
2. Be sure to include all the required details in your preliminary notice form
Rhode Island statutes require your preliminary notice to follow a specific format. You have to make sure that all the required details according to the Rhode Island preliminary notice form are included, and verify that the pieces of information are accurate and spelled properly. Also note that you may not include attorney fees and other lien-related costs in your mechanics lien claim. Be sure to stick with the amount related to your contract.
3. File a Rhode Island mechanics lien if payment is not made
Serving a preliminary notice in Rhode Island is the first step in recording a mechanics lien. When you serve on the owner a preliminary notice, they are informed about your intention to record a mechanics lien if you do not get paid. Be sure to push through with perfecting the mechanics lien if your payment does not get released. Filing a Rhode island mechanics lien is arguably your best weapon to ensure that you recover your payment.