Notice to Owner is an integral part of the Landscaping Contract. The California State Licensing Board requires that Notice to Owner be included in any contract for services by a contractor licensed by the board.
Essentially it is a document that protects the contractor and his subcontractors in the event work is completed under a contract for services and the owner has not paid for these services according to the terms of the contract. This document may vary somewhat from state to state, but in California it protects the right to file a mechanics lien for people and businesses that perform work, in the form of materials and/or services in connection with a construction project on personal property (such as a house), or on real property (such as land in the case of landscaping services).
A mechanics lien is a security interest in the property on which services such as labor and materials have been provided or installed. There may be other names for this type of lien such as ‘construction lien’, or ‘suppliers lien’, or ‘laborers lien’.
The Notice to Owner is an official notice to the homeowner that anyone who provides materials, supplies, labor or services to improve the homeowner’s property, yet is not paid for this work or for supplies or for materials, has a right to place a lien on the home or property upon which the work was performed, and then go to court to perfect this lien. This means that if the court has a hearing, and finds in favor of the contractor or laborer or supplier, an officer of the court could sell the improved property. Then the proceeds of that sale can be used to pay what is owed. The time limit for filing a mechanic’s lien is generally 90 days from completion of the project.
Note that mechanic’s liens may be files by laborers, subcontractors and suppliers if they have not been paid EVEN IF THE CONTRACTOR HAS BEEN PAID IN FULL. These certain parties to the project who may not be known to the owner, such as material suppliers or subcontractors, are required to provide the owner with a ‘Preliminary Notice’. This document announces their existence, their association with the contractor and with the project, and preserves their right to file a claim or lien on the owner’s property if they are not paid.
The Notice to Owner lists possible steps the homeowner may take as protection against mechanic’s lien filings:
- The contractor may give the homeowner a payment and performance bond.
- The homeowner may require that payments be made directly to subcontractors and material suppliers.
- Joint checks may be written to both the contractor and his subs or suppliers.
- The homeowner is advised that he may ask the contractor to give him an unconditional ‘Waiver and Release’ form signed by all parties who have furnished Preliminary Notices. Upon so signing, they relinquish their right to file a mechanic’s lien.
In 30 years of operation, Details Landscape Art has never had an issue receiving payment fro homeowners, nor paying our laborers, suppliers or subcontractors.