At GreenLight Maximum Recovery, our position within a dispute often becomes mediator, communicating with both sides to see how we can find a solution. The guidance we provide to our clients is in hopes of being able to make payment terms so clear, that there aren’t disputes in the first place. The first step in securing your debts and ensuring that you as the contractor are paid for an appropriately completed job depends on your status within that job.
If you are dealing directly with the owner of the property on which the job is taking place, then step 1 is to make sure your contract with the owner is bulletproof. It sounds simple, but it is not uncommon for contracts to be improperly formatted and therefore unenforceable when non-payment issues arise.
Now, if you are a subcontractor on a job your procedure for securing your payment will be a little different. For example, if you are a subcontractor pouring concrete for a project, the general contractor (GC) would be the one with direct interaction with the owner of the property being improved. That owner may not have a clue that you were subcontracted to do your portion of the job he hired the GC to complete. That is, until you complete your first debt security measure and send the owner a Notice to Owner (NTO). This lets them know that you are contributing to the job and protects your rights to claim an eventual lien if you are not paid for a job well done.
Direct Contracts With Owner
The purpose of a mechanic’s lien is to ensure those who are employed in the improvement of a property the ability to have legal security of their debt should the property owner neglect to pay them for their services or materials. If the property owner does not compensate the worker for the the provided service or materials, the worker can initiate a court proceeding to force a property sale for the repayment of the debt.
Who is a Mechanic’s Lien for?
Contracts are much easier to enforce when you’ve taken the proper steps to include protective measures within them. Unfortunately, when GreenLight Maximum Recovery does our free contract review and report for clients, we find they don’t often include these important pieces of protective wording. Our first order of business is to make sure clients are securing their debts on all future projects, so we walk them through the essentials.
- Default Provision – Also called a default clause, this critical portion of the contract outlines what will happen if either of the parties fail to live up to their side of the agreement. These generally allow for contract termination by the non-breaching party, detailed actions to follow to rectify, or a verbiage on damages to be requested.
- Non-Payment Language – This will define what course of action and/or actionable items are included if there is non-payment by the owner. We advise that it would include language that would make the debtor responsible for the cost of collections, attorneys fees if litigation is required, and finance charges (interest) on the debt.
- Dispute Clause – Another critical component in a contract for any contractor is the dispute resolution clause. This clause outlines the rules if a job is deemed unsatisfactory by the owner of the property. We generally advise that it specify a requirement for the property owner to send written notice to the contractor within a set number of days and allow the contractor opportunity to cure the dispute. We find that this clause greatly improves not only the ability to secure your debt, but to open lines of communication during tense times and perhaps avoid any further legal proceedings.
We recommend these elements be included in every contractor’s contracts, and that you consult a professional to ensure you’ve done everything you can to protect your interests.
Notice To Owner
Notice to Owner (NTO) forms, also called preliminary notices or pre lien notices, are sent by contractors contributing to a construction project at the beginning of a job or after they have supplied materials for that job to provide notice of their participation on the project.
For contractors in many states, this is a required notice to be sent to multiple parties on a project, including the property owner, the construction lender, as well as the general contractor in charge of the project. Typically these notices must be sent via certified mail to the recipient.
In many states it can cause you to lose the ability to file a mechanics lien if you did not send the appropriate Notice to Owner. If you don’t have a contract directly with the property owner, the Notice to Owner is your first step in securing your debt.
Although it varies depending on project location from state to state, there are deadlines that apply to how long you have to mail a notice to owner. For example, in the state of Florida, you have 45 days from the completion of your service or your last received payment to mail your Notice to Owner. Only once you’ve completed this step would you be able to proceed in filing a mechanic’s lien.
GreenLight Maximum Recovery takes the guesswork out of it by providing our Deadline Calculator and taking over the burden of processing Notice to Owners for our many clients, ensuring they are being delivered on time to the required recipients on each project, allowing them to focus on conducting their business.
Contact a GreenLight Maximum Recovery professional today to secure your debts.