A Preliminary notice also known as a Notice to Owner (NTO) is a legal document that lets the owner, general contractor, and other recipients on the Notice of Commencement of a construction project know that a contractor, sub-contractor, materials provider, or other party is furnishing labor and/or material and securing their right to file a Mechanics lien in the event they don't get paid.
This notice to owner is not a Mechanics lien, but rather a way to secure the right to file a lien.
Why should you send a Preliminary Notice/Notice to Owner?
4 reasons why sending a preliminary notice/Notice to owner (NTO) is important.
- The primary reason to send a preliminary notice/Notice to Owner (NTO) is to secure your lien and/or bond claim rights in the event of nonpayment.
- A preliminary notice/Notice to Owner (NTO) let's your customer know that you are informed of the lien process and want to be paid on your terms, not their terms.
- Sending a preliminary notice is a common business practice.
- This notice is NOT a reflection on the integrity of your contractor or their subcontractors. It is merely a letter informing all parties that you are furnishing labor and/or material to the project.
Is it possible to File a Mechanics Lien Without a Preliminary Notice in Florida?
Yes, in the state of Florida you can file a Mechanics lien for nonpayment if you have a direct agreement (whether verbal or written) with the owner of the property.
However, if you are not working directly for the owner and are a subcontractor, sub-sub, or supplier you are required in the state of Florida to send a preliminary notice/notice to owner to secure your right to lien the property in the event of nonpayment. Remember a notice to owner must be received not sent by the 45day from first furnishing Private Projects.
What are the Preliminary Notice Exceptions?
Private Construction Projects
If you are working on private construction projects, below are the exceptions:
Architects, landscape architects, interior designers, engineers, or surveyors and mappers are not required to send Florida Notice to Owner forms to secure their lien rights. (§713.03)
Public Construction Projects
If you are working on public construction projects, below are the exceptions:
- A claimant having a direct contractual relationship with the contractor holding the bond is not required to send a preliminary notice/notice to owner. That being said, it’s highly recommended to still send your Notice to Owner.
Best business practices, it is best to send a preliminary notice/notice to owner (NTO) at the beginning of the project to secure your lien rights. Don’t delay!