When an owner refuses to pay you for the work you have contributed to a project, your options may be limited. Contractors never enter a contract thinking they won’t be paid, especially when they have worked with the owner in the past; nevertheless, there’s no guarantee that the contractor-owner relationship will be completely transparent, and disputes can materialize when you least expect it. When issues arise outside of the project site that affect an owner’s ability to disseminate payments as detailed in the contract, it’s good to know that a Houston contractor attorney can help you acquire the compensation you are due by guiding you through the lien process.
Lien law is varied and complex. As we mentioned in parts one, two, and three, each state has their own filing requirements, and Texas has arguably the most confusing and outright head scratching procedures for perfecting a claim of lien against a defaulting owner. In the last section of this four-part series, we will detail a few additional considerations that every construction professional in Texas should keep in mind before filing a mechanic’s lien. Remember, if you want to ensure that you’re taking the right actions at the right time pertaining to a claim of lien, partner with one of the Houston contractor attorneys at Cotney Law.
Don’t Be Shy About Sending Notices
Remember, although contractors dealing directly with the owner don’t have to send a Notice of Intent to Lien, all other contracted parties do. This includes subcontractors, sub-subcontractors, materials suppliers, and equipment lessors. As a potential claimant, you can’t afford to be shy about sending preliminary notices. There’s a fine balancing act between salvaging a relationship with a potential source of income and being taken advantage of.
Due to the stringent nature of The Lone Star State’s monthly notice deadlines, it’s important to determine early on if you’re going to aggressively pursue a claim of lien or not. If you decide the day before the deadline that you’re DEFINITELY not getting paid, it’s already too late. Preliminary notices shouldn’t be misinterpreted as a warning or threat; instead, clarify that you’re taking precautionary measures to protect yourself and have made it a standard procedure — nothing personal. If the owner insists that payment is “on its way,” your safest bet is to send a preliminary notice before the fifteenth day of the qualifying month anyway.
Consult an Attorney
If you believe a mechanic’s lien will be necessary for you to receive payment for completed work on a construction project, you should consult a Houston contractor attorney to guide you through this process. You want to make sure you’re sending the correct documents within the appropriate time frame to maximize your chances of getting paid. Depending on your specific role in the project, you could be required to supply several documents including:
- Disclosure Notice
- List of Subcontractors and Suppliers
- Notice of Specially Fabricated Material
- Retainage Notice
- Two Month Notice
- Three Month Notice
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.