What Is a Notice Of Non-Responsibility?

A notice of non-responsibility is a legal document used by property owners in the U.S. to protect themselves from liability for nonpayment for services done to improve that property. The laws regarding a property owner's liability for nonpayment vary from state to state, but in most jurisdictions, construction companies and other service providers are allowed to claim a lien. This lien is usually called a mechanic's lien or construction lien, which can be placed on a property they have worked to improve, but for which they have not been paid.

Key Takeaways

  • Notices of non-responsibility protect homeowners from liability for nonpayment of services for home improvements.
  • Companies that have done work on a property but haven't been paid can put a mechanic's lien on a property to force payment.
  • These notices, however, will not protect property owners against construction liens for work done that they are aware of or have themselves commissioned.

How a Notice Of Non-Responsibility Works

Notices of non-responsibility vary from state to state, but in general, they are forms filled out by a property owner, filed with the county clerk, and posted at the owner's property, declaring that the property owner is not liable for work done on the property if the property owner has not directly contracted for that work to be done.

Some property owners think erroneously that notices of non-responsibility are more powerful than they actually are. In most jurisdictions, these notices will not protect property owners against construction liens for work done that they are aware of or have themselves commissioned. In addition, they will not protect property owners if the proper protocol for filing the notices is not followed.

Notice of Non-Responsibility vs. Construction Liens

Construction liens, also known as mechanic's liens, are commonly filed by contractors when they have not been paid for work they have completed. The priority of multiple liens is usually determined by the order in which the work has commenced.

Example of Notice of Non-Responsibility

For instance, California state law allows for property owners or property managers to fill out and file notices of non-responsibility for any claim that may arise from tenant improvements on the property.

Under California law, if a property owner has rented out a property to a tenant, and then the tenant contracts with a construction company to improve the property without the owner's consent, the property owner has ten days to file a notice of non-responsibility with the county clerk’s office and post it at the property site. If used correctly, such a notice can protect the property owner from a construction lien if the tenant fails to pay the construction company for services rendered.