Anyone who was not hired directly by the Property Owner or the Property Owner’s Agent must notify the Property Owner in writing of the unpaid amount before filing a Mechanics Lien. However, if you failed to serve the Pre-Lien Notice, you may still have the right to file a Lien if you can demonstrate that either: (1) the Property Owner (and the General Contractor if you were hired by a Subcontractor) received notice of the unpaid amount by some other means; or (2) the Property Owner and the General Contractor are essentially one in the same (referred to as a “sham contract”), thereby relieving you of the obligation to serve a Pre-Lien Notice. if you can take advantage of these exceptions.
Notice of the Unpaid Amount: If you can show that the Property Owner (and General Contractor if you were hired by a Subcontractor) actually received your invoice before the Pre-Lien Notice statutory deadline, then you have likely satisfied the basic requirement of the Pre-Lien Notice. The requirement might also be satisfied if you can show that notice of the unpaid amount was received by email or some other form of written communication.
Sham Contract: If you provided labor/materials to a Project under a direct contract with a third party who is not the Property owner, the law will infer that you have a direct contractual relationship with the Property Owner, making you an “Original Contractor,” if you can demonstrate that the Property Owner contracted with the third party and one of the following applies:
(1) the Property Owner controls the third party through ownership of voting stock, interlocking directorship, or otherwise;
(2) the third party can effectively control the Property Owner through ownership of voting stock, interlocking directorship, or otherwise; or
(3) the contract between the Property Owner and the third party was made without a good faith intention that the third party would perform the contract.
If you can demonstrate the above, then you are not required to serve a Pre-Lien Notice before filing a Mechanics Lien.