Securing Lien and Bond Claim Rights in the U.S. Possessions

Securing Mechanic’s Lien and Bond Claim Rights in the U.S. Possessions – Guam, Puerto Rico & the Virgin Islands

Recent natural disasters have left two U.S. possessions, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, in a vulnerable state. These possessions are now undergoing tremendous rebuilding endeavors.  As a result of this recovery, there is inevitable risk for any party involved with the construction process. Did you know that you may have lien or bond claim rights in Guam, US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico? We don’t often discuss the U.S. Possessions on our blog, but today let’s review statutory requirements for each.

Guam | Private Projects

You should serve a preliminary notice upon the owner within 20 days from first furnishing. A late notice may be served, but the lien, when later filed, will only be effective for materials and services provided 20 days prior to serving the notice and thereafter. You should file the lien within 90 days from last furnishing materials or services. If a Notice of Completion is properly recorded and published, the filing of the Notice of Completion may shorten the deadline for filing the lien to 45 days from the filing. If you need to proceed with suit, file suit to enforce the lien within 90 days from filing the lien.

Guam | Public Projects

There is no statutory preliminary notice required, however, we recommend you serve a non-statutory notice. Serve bond claim notice upon the prime contractor within 90 days from last furnishing. File suit to enforce the bond claim after 90 days from last furnishing materials or services, but within 1 year from last furnishing materials or services.

Puerto Rico | Private Projects

There is no statutory provision for filing a mechanic’s lien or materialman’s lien. You should investigate to determine whether there is a payment bond on the project, and attempt to obtain a copy of the bond to determine coverage.

Puerto Rico | Public Projects

There is no statutory preliminary notice required, however, we recommend you serve a non-statutory notice. Serve the bond claim notice upon the prime contractor at least 30 days prior to filing suit, which is due within 6 months after final acceptance of the project. File suit to enforce the bond claim after 30 days from serving the bond claim notice, but within 6 months after final acceptance of the project. When contracting directly with the prime contractor, suit may be filed at any time within 6 months after final acceptance of the project

Virgin Islands | Private Projects

Serve notice of right to claim lien on the owner and general contractor any time after entering into a contract. The lien will attach to the funds unpaid by the owner to the general contractor any time after entering into a contract. File the mechanic’s lien within 90 days from last furnishing and file suit within  90 days from filing the lien.

Virgin Islands | Private Projects

There is no statutory preliminary notice required, however, we recommend you serve a non-statutory notice. Serve a bond claim notice in accordance with the terms and conditions of the payment bond. Frequently, a bond claim notice is required within 90 days from last furnishing materials or services. When filing suit to enforce the bond claim in accordance with the terms and conditions of the payment bond. Frequently, suit to enforce the bond claim is required within 1 year from last furnishing materials or services. It is recommended to withdraw a satisfied bond claim.

Federal Projects

Not furnishing to a private or public project?  Don’t worry! If you are dealing with federal construction projects, the Miller Act applies in all three possessions. For more information on the Miller Act check out this blog post!

Although it may not come up often, knowing how to secure your rights in the U.S. Possessions could benefit you down the road. As a best practice, if you are furnishing to a US Possession, ensure you have ample time to confirm whether a bond has been provided as well as time for title work to confirm property ownership. You should also be prepared for hourly fees, simply based on remote location.

If you’re interested in learning more about securing mechanic’s lien or bond claim rights? Contact us!

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