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Wisconsin Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien: Requirements and Best Practices

Wisconsin Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien: Requirements and Best Practices

May 27, 2020

Almost all construction parties have the right to file a mechanics lien so they can recover payment from non-paying clients. However, certain steps must be made to preserve lien rights.

In Wisconsin, as in most states, you must serve preliminary notices to protect your lien rights. One of the important preliminary notices in Wisconsin is the Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien. This guide lists down all the steps as well as the best practices in serving the Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien in Wisconsin.

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Send a Wisconsin Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien in minutes

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What is a Wisconsin Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien?

The Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien is a document that notifies a property owner that a construction party is about to file a mechanics lien. It is served when a payment delay or dispute has come up, and the potential lien claimant is giving the property owner a warning before the actual mechanics lien is filed.

You can think of the Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien, also called Notice of Intention, as an ultimatum that you give to a property owner before you record a mechanics lien.

Who must you serve a Wisconsin Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien?

All parties looking to file a mechanics lien in Wisconsin must serve a Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien. This preliminary notice is required regardless of your role in a project. General contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers who are planning to record a Wisconsin mechanics lien must first serve the property owner a Notice Intent to File a Claim of Lien.

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When must you serve a Wisconsin Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien?

A Wisconsin Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien must be filed at least 30 days before you record a mechanics lien. It is very important to remember that serving this notice does not extend the deadline for filing a mechanics lien.

In Wisconsin, the mechanics lien deadline is 6 months after the last day of furnishing labor or materials to the project. You must serve the Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien at least 30 days before mechanics lien deadline.

Consequences of not serving a Wisconsin Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien

If you do not serve a valid Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien on time, the mechanics lien that you record later on will not be enforceable. This notice is a requirement for filing a mechanics lien, and a copy of it must be attached to your actual lien claim. Without a valid Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien, your mechanics lien is also essentially invalid.

However, if you miss the preliminary notice deadline, it will not hurt to still serve a Notice of Intention on the property owner. It can be a good idea to remind them that they still have outstanding debts, and it might prompt them to release the remaining payment.

How to serve a Wisconsin Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien

1. Prepare the Wisconsin Notice of Intention form
2. Deliver the Wisconsin Notice of Intention

1. Prepare the Wisconsin Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien form

The first step is to prepare the Wisconsin Notice of Intent to File a Claim Lien form. There is no state-prescribed template to follow for the form, but Wisconsin statutes state that your Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien must contain these three pieces of information:

a. The nature of the claim

This includes your name and address, the name and address of the property owner, the name and address of the general contractor, the name and address of the party who hired you, and a brief description of the services that you furnished to the project.

b. The amount of the claim

This is the amount of the payment that you are claiming via the mechanics lien. Be very careful not to pad this amount just so you can recover more money. Make sure that you stick to the payments related to the services that you provided.

c. The land and improvement to which the claim relates

This can be the legal description of the property, the street address, or other descriptions that can be sufficient to identify the property location

Prepare at least two copies of your Wisconsin Notice of Intention: one goes to the property owner and the other gets attached to the mechanics lien.

2. Deliver the Wisconsin Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien

Once the Wisconsin Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien form is ready, you have to serve it on the property owner. If you are a subcontractor, you may also give an extra copy to the general contractor. Technically, however, you are required by law to serve the Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien only on the property owner.

Remember that you have to serve the Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien at least 30 days before you record a mechanics lien. It is very important that you do not miss this deadline so as to make sure that your Wisconsin mechanics lien is valid and enforceable.

Note that serving the Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien can be enough to prompt payment from the property owner. Most owners do not want to have a mechanics lien filed against their property, so they would rather settle their debt than wait for you to record your mechanics lien. This is one of the reasons why it is very important to serve this preliminary notice.

However, if payment does not arrive soon, you should go on and file a mechanics lien. When you do, you have to attach a copy of the Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien to your actual claim of lien.

Best practices when serving a Wisconsin Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien

1. Prepare the Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien way before the deadline

You have to serve the Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien at least 30 days before you file a mechanics lien. Make sure that you meet this deadline if you want your mechanics lien to be valid. Some property owners will acknowledge their responsibility of paying up, but some property owners may also question your compliance with the rules and move to have your mechanics lien invalidated.

If you prepare your Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien early and you serve it on the property owner on time, your mechanics lien may be enforced and will work more effectively to get you the payment that you deserve.

2. Keep a copy of the Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien that you can attach to your mechanics lien

Remember that a copy of the Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien must be attached to the mechanics lien. When preparing your form, it is best practice to prepare at least 2 copies so the other copy may be appended to your actual mechanics lien.

3. Do not forget to file a Wisconsin mechanics lien

The Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien is not the same as the actual mechanics lien. It is simply a warning that you give to the property owner to let them know that you are aware of your lien rights and that you will be filing a mechanics lien if you do not receive your payment. Filing a Wisconsin mechanics lien is a different process altogether, so make sure that you fulfill all the required steps for doing so to recover your payment.

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