What is the one step most contractors forget to do when filing a lien? They forget to send a copy of the lien to the contracting owner. And, if you don’t send a copy of your lien, the lien may be invalid.
Section 52-135 Nebraska Revised Statutes discusses the specifics of a lien, including the notice of right to assert lien and the necessary content. Buried in the third paragraph is the requirement to send the contracting owner a copy of the lien. This section provides:
The claimant shall send a copy of a recorded lien to the contracting owner within ten days after recording, and the recording shall be within the time specified for the filing of liens under section 52-137.
So, in order to have a valid lien, you not only have to file the lien within 120 days of completing your work, you must also provide notice of that lien to the contracting owner within 10 days of recording the lien. Without this notice, your lien may be ineffective.
While providing notice is not difficult, proving it may be. The statute does not require that the lien be sent by certified mail, but that is probably the safest practice. A contractor may create a presumption that the contracting owner received the lien by explaining the company’s usual practice of sending out a copy of the lien within a few days the lien is recorded, and that this usual practice was followed for this particular lien. But, this method is much more difficult and will involve significantly more time than simply presenting a copy of the signed registered letter card.
What is your policy and practice to provide a contracting owner a copy of a lien? Does your practice match your policy? Do you think you could prove you actually sent a copy? If you answered no, or even kind of, to any of these questions, you should review your lien policy. If you would like to discuss implementing a more effective policy, please give me a call.