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A 20-Day Preliminary Notice, also known simply as a Preliminary Notice, is filed with the Orange County Clerk-Recorder Department by a subcontractor or material supplier to inform a property owner, direct contractor, project lender or other interested party that they are working on a project and have a right to file a Mechanic’s Lien in the event they are not paid. Preliminary Notices must be filed 20 days from first furnishing labor or materials.

The Preliminary Notice requires delivering a Notice to Property Owner statement in person or by certified, registered, or express mail, or overnight delivery to the property owner, with a receipt of the mailing as proof. If notice is given more than 20 days after work or delivery commenced, lien rights only apply to the work or products provided 20 days before the notice was given, and anytime thereafter.

One way for property owners to protect themselves against Mechanic’s Liens is to require the job’s contractor to obtain a signed release by the person or firm that has provided a Notice to Property Owner statement before the contractor is paid.

For more information, consult the California Contractors State License Board at