(A) The Property Identification - You need to make sure you have the right address. Addresses change during remodel and reconditioning of property. So, if you can get the tax assessor parcel number - you are in the best shape.
(B) The Owner Name & Address - Louisiana law provides you with a claim against the property owner (See below) under La. R.S. 9:4802(A)(3). Though your attorney may be able to rescue this information from the property records, its always a good idea to have the information readily available, for purposes of sending pre-lien notices (See below).
(C) The Contractor's Name & Address - We don't necessarily mean your contractor client. La. R.S. 9:4802 also provides you with a legal cause of action against the project's general contractor. So, please be certain to obtain that contractor's name in order to send pre-lien notices.
(D) The Dates of Delivery - Keep your bills of lading and delivery receipts! They may prove your timeliness in filing your lien.
When is Notice is Required?
Suppliers are required to send a Notice of Non-Payment at least 10 days prior to filing any lien. There is a caveat - this notice is only required on residential projects. But we like to be thorough, so it does not hurt to always send the notices out on any project.
You should know that in projects where a notice of contract has been filed, there is a cut off date for providing notice. Notice of Non-Payment must be sent out 75 days from the last date of the month in which materials were delivered, and in no event longer than the statutory period for filing the lien. Look to Step 4 below for the period for filing.
What is in a Proper Notice?
A notice should include:
(A) the name and address of the seller of movables;
(B) a general description of the materials provided;
(C) a description sufficient to identify the immovable property against which a lien may be claimed, and
(D) a written statement of the seller's lien rights for the total amount owed, plus interest and recordation fees.
The notice must be sent to the contractor and to the owner via certified mail return receipt. Keep the return receipt in your records.
How and When Do I File My Lien?
A supplier's lien is filed just like a contractor lien, but there are some additional time obligations.
If a general contractor files a notice of contract and subsequently files a notice of termination then the supplier must file its lien within 30 days from the date of the filing of a notice of termination.
If no notice of contract has been filed, then the supplier has a longer period. In that event, the supplier has until 70 days from the date of substantial completion or from the date of filing a notice of termination.
A good rule of thumb is to always expect the 30 day period. Set your calender to file a lien within 30 days if you have not received payment.
How Do I Enforce My Lien?
A lien is enforced by filing a lawsuit against the named grantors (persons named as debtors in the lien) in the Parish where the lien was filed.
A lawsuit must be initiated within one (1) year from the date the lien was filed in order to extend the lien and make it enforceable. Your attorney should file a Notice of Lis Pendens in the court and with the Parish Recorder once the suit has been filed, to ensure that the lien is perfected and other creditors have notice.
How Can I Best Protect Myself?
Under La. R.S. 9:4822(K), a supplier may send the owner and contractor a request for notice, demanding that the owner provide them with the a copy of any notice of termination filed, or otherwise the date of substantial completion, at least three days from filing or declaring substantial completion.
If an owner fails to to provide this information, then they are responsible for your attorneys fees.
It is good practice to put together a notice that goes out to all project owners on projects that you ship materials to.
Being careful and following the rules will ensure that your lien is safe.