In the state of Florida, a Notice to Owner or NTO is one of the most important collection tools available to you. If you are making improvements to a construction project but do not have a contract with the owner of the property, then to secure your lien or bond claim rights you must send a Notice to Owner (NTO).
The term, “Notice to Owner” can be confusing. A better description would be “preliminary notice,” because the document does not go only to the owner of the property but also to other designated recipients listed on the Notice of Commencement.
Here are four reasons why you should use NTOs:
- The NTO informs all parties that you are providing labor or material and ensures that your customers know that you are serious about getting paid on your terms.
- The NTO secures your lien or bond claim rights.
- Those that send their NTOs are generally paid first.
- The NTO allows you to extend more credit by securing your lien or bond claim rights in the event of nonpayment.
Top Notice to Owner Best Practices
Some of the best practices to follow so that you have a valid Notice to Owner are:
1. Have a written contract
Having a written contract will address payment and most importantly what course of action to follow in case of nonpayment. This agreement should also include the primary terms of your work, scope, and schedule. Included in your contract should be a statement that says you need to be paid within a certain number of days of issuing your invoice. If your contract also says that the prevailing party is entitled to recover his or legal fees, then you can recover them if you sue them.
2. Gather and organize all your project information
Develop a process in your office to gather all the information you need to send your NTO correctly and on time. Obtain a copy of the Notice of Commencement or bond. If there is not a Notice of Commencement, then obtain a copy of the master permit. Most of the required recipients that need to receive the Notice to Owner can be found on the NOC, bond, or master permit.
This is another place where using SunRay’s Project Information Sheet can help you organize information about your construction project, so you have easily accessible details all in one place.
3. Keep track of all your deadlines
It is important to keep track of all your pre-lien document deadlines, because if you miss even one you will lose your Florida lien rights. SunRay has developed an easy-to-use deadline calculator for you to calculate how many days you have left to send important construction documents.
By signing up to use the SunRay Application, you will also get regular deadline reminders for documents that need to be sent or filed.
4. Do not wait to file your NTO
As soon as you have a verbal or written agreement you should send your Notice to Owner. Although the last day that you should send the notice is Day 40, you can send it even earlier. Do not wait until the last minute.
By sending your NTO early you keep your lien rights intact, and when you use SunRay you can track the status of the delivery and know whenever it reaches the recipients.