Construction participants are typically required to serve the property owner with a preliminary notice to preserve and protect their lien rights. In certain states, failure to serve a preliminary notice may completely prohibit a construction party from recording a valid mechanics lien.
The same rule applies in Wyoming. The state has very strict rules on when and how to serve a preliminary notice, also called the Notice to Owner or the Notice of Right to Lien.
This guide explains the process for serving a preliminary notice in Wyoming and lays out the best practices that will help ensure you successfully protect your lien rights.
- Who must serve a preliminary notice in Wyoming?
- When do you serve a preliminary notice in Wyoming?
- What happens if you fail to serve a preliminary notice in Wyoming?
- How to serve a Wyoming preliminary notice?
- Best practices when serving a Wyoming preliminary notice
Who must serve a preliminary notice in Wyoming?
All construction participants in private projects are required to serve a preliminary notice in Wyoming. These parties include general contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers.
Note that even general contractors are obligated to serve a Wyoming preliminary notice, unlike in most states, where GCs are exempted from the preliminary notice requirement. Also note that other than the preliminary notice, participants are also expected to serve another pre-lien notice called the Notice of Intent to Lien.
When do you serve a preliminary notice in Wyoming?
The deadline for serving the Wyoming preliminary notice depends on your role in a project. If you are a general contractor, you must serve the preliminary notice prior to receiving your first payment. If you are any other party (e.g. subcontractor, supplier), you must serve the preliminary notice within 30 days of the date when you first furnish labor or materials to a project.
Be aware that subcontractors are considered to have a “new” contract if there is a 180-day gap between their first day of work and the next date they furnish labor or materials to a project. In this case, they will have to serve another preliminary notice on the property owner.
What happens if you fail to serve a preliminary notice in Wyoming?
If you do not serve a valid Wyoming preliminary notice on time, you may not be allowed to record a valid mechanics lien. This means that you may not exercise your lien rights if payment disputes arise and you want to recover payment by filing a mechanics lien.
How to serve a Wyoming preliminary notice?
1. Prepare the Wyoming preliminary notice form
The following details should be in your Wyoming preliminary notice:
- Your name, address, and telephone number
- A description of the materials provided or work performed
- A description of the property (e.g. street address)
- A legal description of the property
- Signature and the date of signing
Wyoming Statutes Section 29-10-101 provides a preliminary notice template. Be sure that your Wyoming preliminary notice or Notice to Owner is in this specific form:
NOTICE TO OWNER
The undersigned party is providing work or materials to the property described below. Failure of payment due and owing to a contractor, subcontractor or materialman for work performed or materials provided to the project located on the property can result in the filing of a lien against the property. To avoid this result, when paying for labor and materials you may ask the contractor, subcontractor or materialman for “lien waivers” from all persons supplying materials or services. Failure to secure lien waivers may result in your paying for labor and materials twice. A form of lien waiver is attached to this notice.
Name, address and telephone number of contractor, subcontractor or materialman, and contact person:
MATERIALS PROVIDED OR WORK PERFORMED:
Be sure to include all the relevant titles and statements included in the form above, and also ensure that you fill it out with the information as accurately as possible.
2. Deliver the Wyoming preliminary notice form to the property owner
When your preliminary notice form is ready, you may now serve it on the property owner. Service must be done via certified mail with return receipt requested.
Also keep in mind the deadline for delivering a preliminary notice in Wyoming. General contractors must serve the preliminary notice prior to receiving payment from the owner, while subcontractors and material suppliers must serve the preliminary notice within 30 days of the first date of providing services to a project.
Note that a preliminary notice in Wyoming is considered served the day it is sent. Say, for example, you served the preliminary notice on the 25th day after your first day of work. You are considered to have successfully complied with the requirement, even if the property owner receives your notice beyond the 30-day period.
Best practices when serving a Wyoming preliminary notice
1. Serve the Wyoming preliminary notice as early as possible
Wyoming is very strict when it comes to implementing the preliminary notice deadlines. Failure to deliver a preliminary notice on time can be fatal to your lien rights, so it is best practice to serve the preliminary notice as early as possible, preferably right on your first day of work. General contractors should also remember not to accept any payment until they have served a preliminary notice on the property owner.
2. Fill in the preliminary notice form as accurately as possible
Wyoming provides a preliminary notice form template, so make sure to fill that form out with the most accurate details. Note that the preliminary notice form requires you to provide a legal property description. Verify that you have written the correct details prior to filing, and make sure that your form does not contain any significant errors that might invalidate it.
3. Record a mechanics lien if non-payment occurs
A preliminary notice is not the same as a mechanics lien. If you do not receive your payment, you will have stronger leverage during payment negotiations when you file a mechanics lien. Note that prior to filing a mechanics lien in Wyoming, you must serve a Notice of Intent to Lien, which is different from a preliminary notice. Also note that recording a mechanics lien in Wyoming comes with its own rules, so make sure that you are familiar with those rules and requirements.