Many states in the United States have similar or even identical lien deadlines for general contractors and subcontractors. Tennessee is just not one of those states. In fact, the lien deadlines for these two types of contractors are so radically different that numerous contractors have gotten burned thinking they had more time to comply with lien requirements than they actually had.
Below, a Nashville mechanic’s lien law attorney with our law office will give a brief summary of Tennessee’s lien laws. Hopefully, this information will give you the leg up the next time a party refuses to relinquish owed payment for work or materials provided.
General contractors, contractors that contract directly with the project owner, are required to give preliminary notice prior to breaking ground. This should come as no surprise if you’re a general contractor, as these notices must be sent prior to working on the contract. Failure to provide proper notice is actually a Class B misdemeanor, so be sure to consult a Nashville mechanic’s lien law attorney with any questions.
General contractors have a full year from completion of work to file and enforce a mechanic’s lien. Under Tennessee Code § 66-11-106, “A prime contractor’s lien shall continue for one (1) year after the date the improvement is complete or is abandoned, and until the final decision of any suit properly brought within that time for its enforcement.” But just because you have a full year to file a mechanic’s lien doesn’t mean you can get complacent. Failure to file a lien in a timely manner could result in other parties being given priority.
Subcontractors (And Material Providers)
In stark contrast to the above, subcontractors have a very limited amount of time to give preliminary notice, file a mechanic’s lien, and enforce it. How little time? 90 days. Subcontractors, also known as remote contractors under Tennessee law, must provide a preliminary notice to both the general contractor and owner within 90 days of the last day of each month work was completed, and they have 90 days to both file (serve a Notice of Lien) and enforce a mechanic’s lien after work is completed. As stated by Tennessee law, “The lien shall continue for the period of ninety (90) days from the date of service of notice in favor of the remote contractor.” You may even only have 30 days to file a lien if the owner files a Notice of Completion.
Whether you’re a general contractor, subcontractor, or material provider, you absolutely cannot delay in complying with these strict deadlines. It’s best to provide preliminary notices and comply with filing requirements as soon as possible. For a legal ally who will help you stay on top of strict deadlines and pursue the funds you’re owed, partner with a Nashville construction lien lawyer with Cotney Construction Law.
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.