Missouri law (R.S.Mo. 429.005.1, et seq.) grants general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and laborers the ability to assert a mechanic’s lien for labor and materials provided to a property, provided the lien is properly filed within six months of the last date of work (excluding warranty and corrective work).

In addition to addressing issues related to what work is lienable and the type of properties that may be liened, the statutes also include strict timelines with respect to notice that must be provided to the property’s owner prior to filing the lien. Providing correct and timely notice is the first step in preserving and maintaining valid mechanic’s lien rights in Missouri. This blog post focuses solely on the notice an original contractor and subcontractor must provide the owner prior to filing a mechanic’s lien and applies to privately owned commercial properties only.

Original contractors

An original or prime contractor is a contractor that enters into a contract to perform labor or furnish materials directly with the property’s owner. To preserve its ability to file a mechanic’s lien, an original contractor must provide the property owner with a written notice prior to payment and at one of the following junctures:

  • when the contract is signed;
  • when materials are first delivered;
  • when work commences; or
  • when the first invoice is delivered.

The notice must be written in 10-point bold font, and state:

NOTICE TO OWNER

FAILURE OF THIS CONTRACTOR TO PAY THOSE PERSONS SUPPLYING MATERIAL OR SERVICES TO COMPLETE THIS CONTRACT CAN RESULT IN THE FILING OF A MECHANIC'S LIEN ON THE PROPERTY WHICH IS THE SUBJECT OF THIS CONTRACT PURSUANT TO CHAPTER 429, RSMO. TO AVOID THIS RESULT YOU MAY ASK THIS CONTRACTOR FOR “LIEN WAIVERS” FROM ALL PERSONS SUPPLYING MATERIAL OR SERVICES FOR THE WORK DESCRIBED IN THIS CONTRACT. FAILURE TO SECURE LIEN WAIVERS MAY RESULT IN YOUR PAYING FOR LABOR AND MATERIAL TWICE

Compliance with this notice provision is a condition precedent to the creation of a valid mechanic’s lien by an original contractor.

Subcontractors or suppliers

A subcontractor or supplier not in privity of contract with a property’s owner must provide the owner with at least 10 days’ written notice prior to filing a lien statement. The notice must include the name of the claimant, the amount of the claim, from whom the money is due, and a description (preferably a legal description) of the property. Notice must be served upon the owner by the sheriff, a private process server or any “person who would be a competent witness.” This notice is a condition precedent to the creation of a valid lien. It is important that subcontractors and suppliers keep a careful eye on the six-month deadline within which to file the mechanic’s lien, to leave enough time to serve the 10-day pre-lien notice upon the owner.

A summary of the notice timeline is below:

Type of Claimant

Type of Notice

Time of Notice

Lien Statement

Suit to Enforce

Original contractor or material supplier to owner

Statutory notice, 10-point bold-face font

Before receipt of payment and at one of the four times provided in the statute

File within six months after the last day labor/materials are furnished by the lien claimant

File within six months of filing lien statement

Subcontractor and supplier (Other than to the owner)

Pre-lien notice

At least 10 days before filing the lien statement

File within six months after the last day labor and materials are furnished by the lien claimant

File within six months of filing lien statement