Filing a preliminary notice is a must for all construction professionals in Utah. Failing to file a preliminary notice may be fatal to your right to file a mechanics lien.
The preliminary notice is pretty standard for most states, but unlike other states, Utah has an online filing system that everyone looking to file a preliminary notice must use. This system is known as the Utah state construction registry or SCR.
It is arguably much easier to file a preliminary notice in Utah because you will simply input the information required. There is no required formatting or language, and there is less risk of filing a notice with missing information. However, finding those pieces of information may be a little more involved.
This guide provides detailed steps, tips, and tricks when filing the preliminary notice in Utah. It also answers some of the commonly asked questions and discusses the common mistakes potential lien claimants make when filing the Utah preliminary notice.
- Who must file a preliminary notice in Utah?
- Why is it important to file a preliminary notice in Utah?
- When should you file a Utah preliminary notice?
- How to File a Utah Preliminary Notice: 2 Basic Steps
- Other frequently asked questions about the Utah preliminary notice
- 3 Common Mistakes When Filing a Utah Preliminary Notice
Who must file a preliminary notice in Utah?
All parties that have the right to file a mechanics lien must file the Utah preliminary notice. That includes general contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, and even designers and planners.
Why is it important to file a preliminary notice in Utah?
All construction liens in Utah are valid only if a preliminary notice has been recorded. Without filing a preliminary notice, you might as well consider your mechanics lien null and void.
In essence, filing the Utah preliminary notice is basically protecting your lien rights. You must always seek to protect your lien rights because this right is exclusive to the construction industry—this right protects you from being ripped off and it allows you to pursue payment from delinquent clients.
Payment disputes and delays often happen in the construction industry, so it is in your best interest to protect your right to file a mechanics lien at all costs.
When should you file a Utah preliminary notice?
The preliminary notice must be filed within 20 days after you first provide service, labor, or materials to a project.
TIP: File your preliminary notice as early as possible. Do not wait until the last day to file this very important notice.
What happens if you file the Utah preliminary notice after the 20-day time frame?
Filing the preliminary notice late does not automatically revoke your lien rights. You may still file your preliminary notice after the 20th day from your first day of work. However, you may file a mechanics lien only for all the work that you have done starting from the 6th day after you have filed your notice.
Say, you started working on August 1 and you missed filing the preliminary notice before August 21. If you end up filing the preliminary notice on August 22, your mechanics lien can only be enforceable for the work that you’ve performed since August 28.
However, if a project is over and a Notice of Completion has been filed by the owner, you may not file a preliminary notice 10 days after the Notice of Completion filing date. Beyond this 10-day period, all preliminary notices are invalid.
So if a project ends on September 1, you must file a late preliminary notice before September 11. Keep in mind that this will only cover the work that you could potentially do after the project has already closed.
How to File a Utah Preliminary Notice: 2 Basic Steps
1. Gather the required information
2. Record the preliminary notice in the Utah state construction registry (SCR) online
1. Gather the required information for the preliminary notice
Preparing the Utah preliminary notice document begins with gathering the information that you need. You must have the following details ready when you file your preliminary notice in Utah:
- Your name, address, telephone number, and email address;
- The name and address of the person with whom you have a contract for the project;
- The name of the record or reputed owner;
- The name of the original contractor for construction work under which you provide or will provide construction work;
- The address of the project property or a description of the location of the project;
- The name of the county in which the project property is located
You must also provide ONE of the following pieces of information:
- The tax parcel identification number of each parcel included in the project property;
- The entry number of a previously filed notice of construction loan under Section 38-1a-601 on the same project;
- The entry number of a previously filed preliminary notice on the same project that includes the tax parcel identification number of each parcel included in the project property; or
- The entry number of the building permit issued for the project
Where do you find the required information for the Utah preliminary notice?
Some of these pieces of information are fairly straightforward (e.g. your name and address) but others may be more difficult to find. The following are some of the places to which you can go to search for the information that you need:
- Job site bulletin board
- Local county clerk’s office
- Utah state construction registry
You can begin your research by finding the tax parcel number of the project property. The county recorder’s office is a good place to start—you may call them or give them a visit to ask for the parcel number of the property you are working on.
Once you have the tax parcel number you may then use it to conduct further research. The most convenient search online tool you can use is the Utah state construction registry or SCR.
You may also go to the bulletin board on your job site or in any place in the property location in which notices and announcements are typically posted. Preliminary notices and building permits posted on that board must have a QR code that one can scan to get access to the property’s entry in the state construction registry.
The QR code from the preliminary notice or the parcel number (or entry number for government projects) can give you access to the other documents that have been filed on the property, including preliminary notices from other parties.
The filed preliminary notices should be able to give you the information that you require. Otherwise, you may have to perform even further research. You may speak directly with the party that hired you or the general contractor. You may also issue written requests.
TIP: The information from existing filed documents may not be accurate so always verify with other sources that you have the correct, most updated info.
2. Record the preliminary notice using the Utah online registry
In Utah, all preliminary notices must be filed online using the state construction registry or SCR. This is the same website where you can find the previous preliminary notices filed on the project.
This step is pretty straightforward. Since you have all the information ready, you just have to put them on the online form. You can also enter your email address onto the site so you can receive notifications if other notices have been filed on the property.
TIP: It is highly recommended that you provide your email to the SCR so you get notified if a Notice of Completion has been filed on the project. This will help you track your lien deadline in case you need to file a mechanics lien.
If you are a general contractor, you are most probably the first party who has filed a notice on that property. You may print your preliminary notice document that comes with a QR code and post it in a conspicuous location on the work site. This way, other construction participants may be able to access to the preliminary notice that you filed and get the pieces of information that apply to them.
Other frequently asked questions about the Utah preliminary notice
Can I file multiple preliminary notices on one construction project?
No, you must file only one preliminary notice for each project. If you are signed to multiple contracts in the same project, one preliminary notice that covers the type of construction that you do should be enough.
What happens if I use inaccurate information from a previously filed preliminary notice?
You are responsible for the information that you include in the preliminary notice that you file. The person or party who filed the notice with inaccurate information will not be held liable if the information they used cost you damages and fees.
REMEMBER: It is ultimately your responsibility to ensure that the information in your preliminary notice form are correct and up to date.
Is there an alternative way to file the Utah preliminary notice?
You may file the Utah preliminary notice via the Handle app, which can help you with the research process in searching for the information that you need and can make sure that you have filed the notice on time.
With Handle, you are guaranteed that the information in your preliminary notice is verified. Handle can also manage the entire mechanics lien process for you. If payment issues come up down the road, Handle can take care of doing the research for your lien claim and ensuring that it is accurate and properly recorded.
3 Common Mistakes When Filing a Utah Preliminary Notice
1. Waiting until the last minute to file the preliminary notice
Some construction participants intend to file the preliminary notice but they wait until the last minute to do so.
Filing the notice on the 20th day after you have started working on the project is not a good idea. You may discover that you have incomplete information, and by the time you get all the required details, the 20-day time frame has passed.
2. Relying on previous notices without verifying accurate information
Since most of the information is available on the registry, some construction participants simply rely on the documents that have been filed. This is also not a good idea.
Putting inaccurate information may result in invalidating your preliminary notice, which may also invalidate your mechanics lien claim. It is highly advisable that you still do your own research so you can verify that the information you are getting from the previously filed documents is correct.
3. Not filing the preliminary notice at all
As bad as it sounds, some construction stakeholders still forget to complete this notice requirement completely. They could have just forgotten, and sometimes they are not comfortable filing a preliminary notice against a property before a payment dispute occurs.
Keep in mind that the filing or serving of the preliminary notice is a standard practice in almost every state. Filing this notice is required in Utah, so property owners and general contractors should expect to be notified about these documents.
There is no harm done when filing a Utah preliminary notice, so make sure that you file it on time, whether a payment issue has arisen or not.