Using a secured interface

Is you’re confidential customer information being digitally compromised?

 

Paper forms, Word documents, Fax machines, are just about gone from today’s business environment. The internet has now all but commandeered the way companies connect with each other. eMail, file transfer, web forms, apps have pretty much replaced the old way of doing business.

The new choices are faster, easier, more convienent and also subject to being electronically compromised. To avoid this vulnerability, smart businesses are using secured, encrypted websites and communications tools like “Exchange Server”.

If your business is relying upon outsourced services like CRM. It is wise to make sure that everything you do, which involves the exchange or sharing of confidential customer information, is done so in the safest digital environment available.

We at CRM want you to know that all of our online service:

  • crmlsi.com
  • crmlienservice.net
  • eSystems
  • eGreenies
  • eRequest1
  • eTransfer

even our 50 state guide (which does not require the sharing of any confidential information) are completely encrypted using authorized and signed, SSL (Secured Socket Layer) Certificates. This layer of digital protection allows you to be confident that your information, while being entered, transferred or returned from CRM is completely safe from the prying eyes of scammers or even worse, your competitors.

To learn more about how your customer information is protected, contact CRM Lien Services, Inc. “Serving Industries that build America” for over 30 years

Proof of Preliminary Notice Delivery

When will you need “PROOF” that your preliminary notice was not only served but also received, by an authorized representative of the entity named in the notice?

So it looks like the operative word here is “PROOF”. However, it is not. The truth be told, the operative word is “When”. When might you be asked to prove that the entities named in the preliminary notice actually received the notice? Because most preliminary notices completely satisfy the statute as long as the notice is served within the time frame and by a method, approved within the statute. Then why require “PROOF” of receipt? Because most Mechanics Lien Statutes ( which differ than the Preliminary Notice Statute) require that you not only prove that you served the preliminary notice, but also prove that the entity being served did in fact receive it.

Confused?

Here is the bottom line: Most, perhaps as many as 99%, of all preliminary notices, do not result in supporting a Mechanics Lien. The preliminary notice usually is released or reaches the end of it’s life when the job is completed and some time has passed (usually 90 or 120 days). If your company serves many preliminary notices during the course of a business year, and only a handful become needed to support a mechanics lien. Why spend a considerably higher amount for Certified Mail Return Receipt, or FedEx, or Process Server, or other delivery methods allowed within the statute. When less than 1% of your preliminary notices result in a Mechanics Lien?

Some may answer that the 1% risk far out ways the extra cost for being secured on each and every served preliminary notice. This is surely one way to evaluate the risk. However, when we return to the original operative word; ‘When”. We find that the “When” can easily, and very cost effectively, be satisfied by securing “Proof of receipt” anytime up until 24 months, after the notice was served.

So one may subject themselves to being penny wise and dollar foolish by paying 10% to 20% more for every preliminary notice served during the course of the year. Or you can afford the same level of risk, and obtain a “Proof of receipt” on any job, which is lasting longer than 20 months, and be ready to advance your Mechanics Lien with legal copies of all the signatures required to make your Mechanics Lien ready for court.

If you need a solution to maximize this process, we recommend the CRM “eAlert Unlimited” service along with our request for “Proof of receipt”.

To learn more, just click on the eAlert Unlimited image below:

Never miss another Mechanics Lien DEADLINE

Confusing a Lien with a Prelim

So what’s the difference?

Here is a simple analogy:

Let assume that you want to see the latest summer blockbuster movie before it is out of the theater and only available on DVD or Streaming. You make plans to go to the theater on Saturday night. You arrive at the theater, parking is free and now you proceed to the box office. What happens next?

  1. You show them your prepaid ticket on your iPhone or
  2. You buy a ticket which is your admission into the theater to view the movie.

Here’s the analogy: The ticket (which you paid for) is your “Prelim” while the “Movie Viewing Experience” is your Lien.

So you need a ticket to see the movie the same way you need a prelim to have the right to file a lien.

Therefore, a prelim, or pre-lien is NOT the same as a lien.

Once you have clarity on the purpose and scope of these two very different documents, your ability to protect your job related accounts receivables will become a whole lot easier.

Another way to remember is:

  1. A prelim SECURES my RIGHT to file a lien
  2. A lien SECURES my job related unpaid accounts receivables.

Now the kicker: You must take one of the following three actions before either of these documents will result in collecting your job related accounts receivables:

  1. Sign a release of your lien in exchange for payment in full from the entity named in your lien.
  2. Negotiate payment terms and refile an extended lien.
  3. Have your attorney use the lien as a basis upon which to file a foreclosure lawsuit against the property named in your lien and collect the amount claimed in your lien from the proceeds of the sale of the property.

This is a very simple yet accurate summation of the prelim/lien process. However, there are variables that can affect any of these conditions:

  1. Timing (time to serve your prelim, time to record and serve your lien, and time to commence a foreclosure lawsuit).
  2. Not all states require a prelim (check the CRM 50 state guide)
  3. You must be legally eligible to claim a lien (A contractor with an expired license, may not be able to claim a lien)
  4. Not every state offers the option to extend a lien.

Need more information on these and other options for methods to secure your job related accounts receivables?

What do we mean by “going the extra mile?”

How? How is CRM doing more without raising their rates or adding for extra charges?

Be certain of one thing, when the research is completed on your preliminary notice, and two or more reputable sources have been used to confirm the location of the Lender, or the Owner, or the General Contractor, and after your preliminary notice is served on the entity at the verified location, and USPS returns the service to CRM stating the address is invalid, Now What?

Should we just ignore it? Should we take the position that an attempt was made according to the requirements of the state statute so nothing further needs to be done? Perhaps just take the returned service and attached it to the original file in order to prove service was attempted but not completed because: “The Owner, Lender, or GC” moved and their new address was not available at the time the research was conducted.

We could just come back to you and report that service was attempted and should be valid to support your lien rights, perhaps request that we attempt a second service at an add on fee. But that would not, in our business model, qualify as “Going the extra mile”. It would be more of an excuse and a compromising delay of time.

So when this occurs, and it surely can, CRM will automatically perform a second search and locate any new mailing address, and RE-SERVE the notice at NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE to you.

Why?

Because simply complying with the statute does not put the notice infront of the entity that will ultimately be preparing your payment, or at the very least, influencing your payment. You are using our service to protect your lien rights and to GET PAID FASTER!

At CRM this is a commitment. It is part of our culture. Time is of the essence, and delays in processing may not only compromise your lien rights, but they can also slow up your payments.

Not acceptable at CRM and for that reason alone, We do

GO THE EXTRA MILE!

Ask others about their experiences using CRM. You will not find a more dedicated business partner who really cares about protecting your accounts receivable.

For more information:

Is using a notice service worth it?

The choices you make to protect your open “construction job related” accounts receivable are yours and yours alone.

Naturally you could choose to rely on standard “Risk” policies. ie: (to extend or not extend credit). This usually ends in one of two ways:

  1. Your client is “ROCK SOLID” and pays like clockwork, each and every time. If this is your experience and you sell to the same client day in and day out. Why add another layer of security?
  2. You are growing your business and constantly bringing on new clients. The laws of average dictate that sooner or later you will get burned. Not deliberately, but simply as a result of Murphy’s Law. So adding a layer of accounts receivable protection with the level of security anchored by a series of legal documents which will allow you to actually collect your open balances, makes for some solid business sense.

Now to the subject at hand: “Is using a notice service worth it?”

Naturally we would like you to conclude that this is a no brainer: Of course it is! However, it does take some serious consideration. Concerns like:

  • Would it be less expensive to do it myself?
  • Do I want to trust someone I don’t know with access to my client information?
  • Is this service just slapping some basic information on a form and mailing it?
  • What qualities and characteristics do I look for when choosing a service?

These are only the tip of the decision making process. However, this is a reasonable starting point and should help you to reach a final decision or at least narrow it down. Here are some answers to this due diligence:

#1  Would it be less expensive to do it myself?

Unless you are serious about using the notice system for all orders and are willing to commit the time needed to do it right. Don’t attempt this in house. Researching and preparing these documents takes knowledge and dedication to completing the research that results in a “Bullet Proof” notice. Too many try to do this on a whim and end up with all types of errors. From listing the wrong owner to using outdated forms. We have seen it all. Once again, they never intended for it to be wrong or invalid. And in most cases those who did the preparation believed it was solid and ready to stand firm against any Court or Lawyer’s Review. Sad thing is that many who are served an invalid notice don’t recognize the errors and just treat it as just another client who will now be required to issue releases for a right to lien which they may have never actually secured. So if you do consider an “In House” process. You would be well served to make it someones primary responsibility and not just an add-on to a clerical function.

#2  Do I want to trust someone I don’t know with access to my client information?

Only if they

  1. have published “Privacy Policies”.
  2. Present no conflict of interest with other services they may provide.
  3. Have been in Notice Preparation and Service business long enough where other clients can testify as to their integrity.
  4. And they are not hiding behind a website which is elusive and makes it very difficult to physically find the service. Be careful about PO Boxes, generic non descriptive email addresses, or those who may be peddling marketing list loaded with all of your customers information. Choose someone who will never be in a position of compromise.

#3  Is this service just slapping some basic information on a form and mailing it?

A sure way to investigate this behavior is “Advertised Pricing”. If it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, you know the rest: It’s a Duck and that is exactly what you should do. As a matter of fact don’t just duck – run in the other direction. These “Low Ballers” could care less about the quality or integrity of your notice. They are all about the fast buck and the next trick. Watch out for the “One large fee for a volume of notices – paid up front. Ask yourself- do they want my business? or my money?Anyone offering to properly prepare and serve a notice must have qualified processors, who are willing to stay with the research until all critical information has been verified and the notice is properly served. You should be able to call, email, and visit, the service you are trusting with your proprietary business information.

#4  What qualities and characteristics do I look for when choosing a service?

How long have they been in the business? How long have they been servicing the same clients? Are they Insured? Licensed? What do their clients say about their service? Are they comparable with your business structure? IE: Do you need a service who can service all of the states where you conduct business? How do they accommodate your accounts payable processes? What hoops must you jump through to submit your request? Are they available when you need them? Do they know and understand the laws which govern the notice process? This list can go on and on. The key is that you are choosing a service which is not a “Fly by Night”. A service that takes this business serious, and people who you can respect.

Need to explore a proven leader in this field?

 

Don’t shoot the Messenger

 

Looks like the California Mechanics Lien process just got a little more expensive.

Governor Brown has signed into law an amendment to the California Government Code:

Title 3, Division 2, Part 3, Chapter 6, Article 5 “Fees”

Effective January 1, 2018 the recordation of a Mechanics Lien, Notice of Completion and possible a Release of Mechanics Lien will now be subject to an additional $75.00 recording fee, Ouch! Now this new fee reaches far beyond the recording of a mechanics lien. It applies to almost any document which applies to real estate and must be recorded. So many many transactions of California Real Estate will be handicapped by this new charge.

Naturally, just like the new California state tax increase on gasoline, the public is being encouraged to contact their representative and launch a complaint as to what may have the appearance of unfair price gouging. After years of being subject to reasonable rates like $8.00 per page or something close to this rate, the new $75.00 surcharge surely takes on the aura of this kind of behavior. However, until this is changed, or overturned by the courts. Everyone will need to pay the new fee.

So what is the best strategy? How should you prepare to work with these unavoidable increases?

For Starters: Make sure that you are prepared to RECOVER these fees within the scope of your business contract. Have your attorney review your sales order, proposal, quotes, etc. and make sure the language is included that will allow you to recover all of your cost to pursue a mechanics lien without risking these cost.

Also, avoid choosing the California Mechanics Lien process for amounts that are minimal. If you need to expose yourself to a higher lien filing cost, be ready to follow it through and that your claim is bullet proof.

Make sure that your negotiations take all of these cost into consideration. If you hold a mechanics lien on a property and have negotiated a price in exchange for a release of lien, it would be wise to add the cost of having a Release of Lien prepared, including the new cost to record the release.

The mechanics Lien will continue to be the best tool for securing your unpaid receivables on any construction project. However, reviewing your collections processes and taking action to ensure your mechanics lien is supported by well researched preliminary notices, and guarded by an alert system that keeps you away from stressful, 11th hour decisions, will keep you in the drivers seat.

For additional information on these new California Government Code changes contact CRM

1-800-773-5467

Stop Date – a moving target

When do your Lien Rights begin to wind down?

Most states, not all, have statutory conditions which offer a subcontractor or materials supplier 90 days from last supplying or last performing work on the project, to record and serve a mechanics lien. This should be easy to track. However, for many it is not. Why? Because stuff happens. You know what I am talking about: High order days, Exchanges, New Accounts, Sick Days, the whole enchilada. It’s called business. Thank God we have it. But at times it can be overwhelming.

You may ship materials to a project on day 1 and be finished. Naturally this means that you have 90 days from day 1 to record and serve your mechanics lien. But what happens when on day 32 the same customer orders another shipment for the same job? The simple math is:  you now have 122 days from day 1 to record and serve your mechanics lien. And should the same customer place another order on day 67 . . . I think you get the picture.

Your Stop Date or Last Furnishing Date is always subject to being a “Moving Target”

As long as that target continues to advance, you have a longer time to concern yourself about filing a lien. Bottom line is that you will always have 90 days from the date you last supplied or performed work. (Of course we are referring to states were the statute allows 90 days) So the challenge with the Moving Target is: How do you track it?

One of the best answers we can provide is:

 

 

 

Using eAlerts Unlimited and the eAlerts Reporting Process, you will have one of the most efficient tools for keeping track of this moving target. It does require a little work on your behalf. (Upon receiving your eAlert Report, you will need to check your clients job accounting file and note any new shipments, or workorders.) However, the report will guide you through every open Preliminary Notice, sorted by job site and your customer, and allows you to simply jot down the most current ship/work order dates on the report, then email the eAlert Report along with your updated status, back to CRM.

Once your review with updates of the eAlert Report is received, your moving targets will be indexed and your ongoing reports will be one of the most useful accounts receivables management tools in your credit and collections toolbox.

For more on eAlert Unlimited, select the image above.

Completion? Last Furnished? Stop Date?

Many ways to reference what most consider to be the same thing. However, everyone of these terms have completely different meanings and various concerns on those planning to secure their outstanding receivables on any given job.

Lets take some time to give each of these the respect they deserve and hopefully avoid compromising your lien rights due to misunderstanding.

First and foremost is the COMPLETION date. This is usually manifested by a formal filing of a “Notice of Completion” with the recorders office in the county where the property is located. But it may also be confirmed by the owner and the general contractor agreeing that the contract is completed, final payment is made, and no further work is required. In other words the COMPLETION is driven by the finalization of the original construction contract between the owner or owner’s agent and the general contractor.

So why is this important?

Why is it any different than the date you last furnished to the project or the date your company stopped working on the job?

One thing to consider is the lien law statute for the state where the property is located. If the statute declares that the time for anyone holding a right to bring a mechanics lien against the job will expire 90 days after the Notice of Completion is recorded. Then on the 91st day after recordation, your lien rights are gone.

Now there are states which declare that a subcontractor or materials supplier is allowed up to 90 days after last furnishing to record and serve a mechanics lien.

How does this differ from the above?

When you consider any project which may last many months or perhaps years. Many different trades could participate in the project long before the original construction contract between the owner and the general contractor is completed. However, if the state statute requires them to record and serve their mechanics lien, not later than 90 days after their STOP DATE or after they last supplied to the project. Then their mechanics lien rights will also disappear 91 days after they finish.

So how do you protect your open accounts receivables when there are so many variables which could impact your time to take action?

At CRM we offer a clients a service called “eAlerts Unlimited” This Lien Rights Tracking Program is driven by the STOP DATE, or anticipated STOP DATE, which is recorded on the date your request for a notice to establish your lien rights is received. Most clients do not know when they will stop supplying to the job. For some it may be a one time shipment, while others may continue to supply for months or perhaps for the duration of the project. One key point to keep in mind is: “It is not solely based on the shipments you may supply to the job site” It is also governed by each of your customers who may have ordered from you for the same project. Each customer will need to be named in separate initial notices that will protect your lien rights on this project.

The sweet feature of the CRM Unlimited eAlerts program is that it E X T E N D S your time to take action by the continuation of your “Last Shipped Orders”. The CRM eAlert Reports (Weekly, Monthly, or As Requested) will allow you the opportunity to compare the

“STOP DATE” on the report with your last SHIP DATE in your accounts receivables file.

When they are the same, you will need to consider the recommended action as listed in the report. When these dates differ, you may note your last ship date on the report and return, via email, to CRM. We will then extend your original STOP DATE to the new LAST SHIP date and your time to consider a mechanics lien will be extended accordingly.

For additional information please select:

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Making sense of Texas Retainage Notices

So the law reads that your “Notice of Retainage Agreement” must be served not later than the earlier of:

The 30th day after the claimant’s agreement providing for retainage is completed, abandoned or terminated. or the 30th day after the date the original contract is terminated or abandoned.

So what is being implied:

  1. The owner of the property will comply with the law and retain 10% of the monies as proposed in the General Contractor’s Contract.
  2. If you are the original contractor and possible a first or second tier subcontractor or materials supplier, you are automatically subject to this retainage condition.
    1. To further protect your earnings, it may be wise to have your client sign a contract which includes a retainage agreement which stipulates the exact amount you are agreeing to have withheld until retainage is due and payable.
  3. To be in compliance with the time allowed for you to serve a “Notice of Contractual Retainage” you must be aware of when you finish on the job and also when the general contractor finishes on the job. If you finish before the general, then you have 30 days from the date you finish to serve your notice. However, should the general contractor complete the project before you. (This may be theoretically impossible. But there could be a situation where your work may include some punch list items being addressed after the general has already signed off on the job.)

In either case the best strategy is to serve your “Notice of Contractual Retainage” as soon as you start. In Texas, the amount to be retained is 10% and you should be able to determine this amount on the day you start. So why wait, and run the risk of missing the opportunity to protect your Retainage? This could be your whole profit or a large part of it. To have it victimized by missing a due date is ridiculous. Keep in mind, the timelines listed above are deadlines. There is nothing to prevent you from serving earlier.

Keep in mind! The unpaid balance due you for the 90% of the work is separate from the 10% withheld retainage amount. You may NOT include retainage in a mechanics lien for the unpaid balances earned through the base contract, unless you are able to file a mechanics lien after all terms have been satisfied and all or part of your contract remains unpaid. However, should the terms for the retainage be unsatisfied at the time to bring your mechanics lien forward, you will need to file a mechanics lien for the unpaid contract and upon satisfaction of the terms for the retainage agreement, perhaps a second mechanics lien for the unpaid retainage

Don’t let your Retainage be compromised. You will need to serve this notice to protect your Retainage. So better to act sooner than later.

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Why can’t I lien my customer?

Seems like a logical assumption. You provided materials or services to your client and they have the ultimate responsibility to pay you. So why can’t you put a lien on them?

The answer is a little complex but I will do my best to clarify. The primary concept you will need to wrap your mind around is:

Mechanics Liens may only be placed on REAL PROPERTY

 

Now chances are that your agreement with your customer is that they pay you by cash, check, or some sort of transfer of money into your account. You cannot put a lien on money* so there is no mechanism for you to put a lien on your customer.

However, your customer does have an obligation to pay you. So when your customer decides not to pay you, the best option is to consider filing a “Breach of Contract” Lawsuit. or if the amount owed is within the limits allowed by the local “Small Claims” Courts, then consider filing a “Small Claims” action. This is surely a method available to you to secure your unpaid balance. However, these options may cost much more than the cost to place a mechanics lien on the REAL PROPERTY you helped to improve.

So, while a mechanics lien may not be used against your client. It can, and should be used, to secure the amount due to you from your client because the “FINAL BENEFICIARY” of the materials or services you provided is the Owner of the Real Property.

So the next most asked question is: Can I do both?

Can I lien the job and file a Breach of Contract Suit against my customer? Yes you can. BUT!

There is always a “but”. You may only collect once for the amount due to you. You cannot collect twice for the same balance due.

So we get down to asking: What is the wisest business decision?

My thinking is to file the mechanics lien. Why? because chances are that your customer is not paying you because they have not been paid for the work they performed on the same project in which they hired you. So if they were paid, the breach of contract suit becomes more strategic. But if they are still waiting to be paid, then the mechanics lien may be your most efficient method.

This subject can get a lot deeper depending on many different conditions which may exist. But to answer the question: Why can’t I lien my customer? this should provide you with a good understanding.

One last point. The mechanics lien can be a little tricky. It must be done properly to have any real impact. Make a small mistake and the time and money you invested in your mechanics lien may be easily squandered. Unless you are experienced in the preparation of mechanics liens, we recommend you consider using CRM Lien Services as your professional resource for this process.

(* you cannot lien the money your customer owes you. However, in some cases it is possible to put a lien on the money which is being used to fund the project – see Stop Notice or Lien on Funds)