Tennessee
Mechanics Lien & Notice FAQs

It's easy to file Tennessee mechanics liens with zlien, the web's leading all-in-one mechanics lien compliance manager and security platform. Plus, zlien's platform can help you prepare and file mechanics lien cancellations, preliminary notices, and more. Tennessee is an Unpaid Balance state. To learn more about Tennessee's mechanics lien law, read the frequently asked questions below.

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Tennessee

Preliminary Notice Deadlines
Before work

Notice to Owner prior to commencing work.

Tennessee

Mechanics Lien Deadlines
1 Year

A lien must be filed within 1 year of last furnishing labor and/or materials. The lien must be enforced during the same period. However, both periods may be shortened by actions of the property owner.

File your Tennessee lien online now.

Tennessee

Preliminary Notice Deadlines
90 Days

Notice of Non-Payment must be provided to the owner within 90 days of last day of the month labor and materials provided. For example, if labor was provided on April 3, then notice is provided 90 days from April 30. Separate notices are required for each month unpaid services or materials are provided.

Tennessee

Mechanics Lien Deadlines
90 Days

Generally, a lien must be filed within 90 days of the completion of the work or improvement, and enforced within 90 days of the lien's filing. Both periods may be shortened, however.

File your Tennessee lien online now.

Tennessee

Preliminary Notice Deadlines
90 Days

If supplying to the owner, the same notice requirements apply as for the prime contractor. Otherwise, the same notice requirements as for a subcontractor.

Tennessee

Mechanics Lien Deadlines
90 Days

Generally, a lien must be filed within 90 days of the completion of the work or improvement, and enforced within 90 days of the lien's filing. Both periods may be shortened, however.

File your Tennessee lien online now.

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Complete Guide to Tennessee Lien Law

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Tennessee Frequently Asked Questions

Tennessee Mechanics Lien FAQs

In Tennessee, the parties entitled to mechanics lien protection depend on the project type. For all projects except 1 to 4 unit residential owner-occupied buildings, the lien rights are expansive; contractors, subcontractors, laborers, equipment and material suppliers to any tier, surveyors, architects, and engineers all have lien rights.

On owner-occupied residential property of between 1 to 4 units, only the prime contractor (and/or those contracting directly with the owner) has lien rights. If the owner is acting as his own prime contractor on a project on a single-family residential property, laborers and suppliers contracting with the prime contractor and “1st tier subs” have lien rights.

In Tennessee, a general contractor has no technical requirement to record or file a mechanics lien statement in order to preserve his lien rights; he must merely file suit to enforce his lien within 1 year from the last date of furnishing labor and/or materials to the project. However, this is generally not a good idea as the general contractor’s rights may be cut off by third parties prior to initiating the lawsuit if a lien statement (or the contract itself) is not recorded. The best and customary way for the general contractor to secure his lien rights is to record his Notice of Lien and Sworn Statement as would a remote contractor. This means the same 90-day rule applicable to remote contractors also applies to general contractors to protect lien rights against 3rd parties.

A party other than the general contractor who has lien rights must record their lien within 90 days after the completion or abandonment of the project in order to protect their rights as concerned to subsequent purchasers or encumbrances.

Note, however, that these deadlines may be shortened if a Notice of Completion has been filed and served.

The following paragraphs outline the time lien claimants have to file:

GENERAL CONTRACTOR

Residential (Notice of Completion Recorded and Served): Lien and response to Notice of Completion required within 10 days of date on which Notice of Completion filed.

Residential (Notice of Completion NOT simultaneously recorded and served): Lien and response (if applicable) required within 90 days of actual completion of project.

Commercial (Notice of Completion Recorded and Served): Lien and response to Notice of Completion required within 30 days of date on which Notice of Completion filed.

Commercial (Notice of Completion NOT simultaneously recorded and served): Lien and response (if applicable) required within 90 days of actual completion of project.

SUBCONTRACTOR

Residential: No mechanics liens allowed.

Commercial (Notice of Completion Recorded and Served): Lien and response to Notice of Completion required within 30 days of date on which Notice of Completion filed.

Commercial (Notice of Completion NOT simultaneously recorded and served): Lien and response (if applicable) required within 90 days of actual completion of project.

Yes, notice is required in Tennessee. As well as recording the Notice of Lien and Sworn Statement with the Register of Deeds in the county in which the property is located, the lien must also be given to the property owner. This may be accomplished by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested.

Tennessee mechanics lien law states that “a lien arising under this chapter shall not include in the lien amount any interest, service charges, late fees, attorney fees, or other amounts to which the lienor may be entitled by contract or law that do not result in an improvement to the real property.” However, it is provided that “the recording party shall pay filing fees, and shall be provided a receipt for the filing fees, which amount shall be part of the lien amount.” So, the only extra amount provided for by the lien statutes in Tennessee is the cost of filing the lien at the recorder’s office.

In Tennessee, a contractor with a direct contract with the property owner must initiate a lawsuit within 1 year after the completion of the work. However, if the lien claimant is served with a written demand for enforcement of the lien by the property owner, the lien claimant must initiate the foreclosure action within 60 days of receipt of the written demand.

All lien claimants without a direct contract with the property owner must initiate an action to enforce their lien within 90 days of the lien’s filing. However, the period may be shortened to 60 days if the property owner serves the lien claimant a written demand for enforcement of the lien.

It depends. In Tennessee, a mechanics lien may have priority over a mortgagee of the project if the lien claimant provided the mortgagee with written notice sent by certified or registered mail prior to the lien claimant’s first furnishing of labor and/or materials to the project, and the mortgagee either consents or does not object within 10 days after receipt of the notice. The mortgagee’s objection must be by certified or registered mail. If this notice is not sent, and/or the mortgagee properly objects, the mechanics lien will not have priority over the mortgage.

As to competing mechanics liens, all mechanics liens, with the exception of liens of laborers, are of equal priority and would share pro-rata in the proceeds of a sale of the property if the proceeds are not enough to pay all liens in full. The liens of laborers have priority over other mechanics liens.

It is not well-defined in Tennessee. In Tennessee, a lien must include a “reasonably certain description of the real property on which the lien is claimed.”

Yes. A mechanics lien in Tennessee must be notarized in order to be valid.

It depends. For projects involving a 1 to 4 family owner-occupied residential building, home improvement contractors are required to be licensed, and may not file a valid mechanics lien unless they are so licensed. For all other projects, there is no specific licensing requirement. However, it is never advisable to perform work that requires a license if unlicensed.

Yes. A mechanics lien may be filed against a condominium project in Tennessee, to the extent you are a party otherwise allowed to file a mechanics lien.

Tennessee lien law provides that when a mechanics lien is forfeited, expired, or satisfied, the lien claimant must file a Release of Lien document with the Register of Deeds in the county in which the property is located. Failure to do so within 30 days after receipt of a written demand of such release will result in the lien claimant being held liable for the damages and costs arising therefrom, including reasonable attorney’s fees.

Tennessee does not have statutory lien waiver forms; therefore, you can use any lien waiver form. Since lien waivers are unregulated, be careful when reviewing and signing lien waivers.

Also, Tennessee state law prohibits contractors and suppliers from waiving their right to file a mechanics lien in contract.

To learn more about lien waivers, see our Tennessee Lien Waiver FAQs and Resources.

Tennessee Preliminary Notice FAQs

Generally, yes. Prime contractors, subcontractors, laborers, and suppliers are all required to give preliminary notice on all projects except 1 to 4 family residential owner-occupied buildings. For those projects, the “notice” required must be contained within the contract itself between the home improvement general contractor and the owner-occupier.

Prime Contractor: Must deliver preliminary notice to the property owner, via certified or registered mail, prior to commencement of work or entering into the contract.

All Other Parties: Preliminary notice must be received by the property owner within 90 days of the last day of each month in which labor and/or materials were furnished.

General Contractor: The general contractor’s notice to owner is required to preserve the general contractor’s lien rights. Failure to deliver the notice is fatal the mechanics lien claim.

All Other Parties: While failure to send preliminary notice timely may not extinguish all lien rights, a mechanics lien would only be valid for the amounts timely noticed. This is important as a potential lien claimant may be required to send several notices if amounts have been unpaid in multiple months.

Preliminary notice by all potential lien claimants may be served by certified mail, return receipt requested.

The general contractor’s preliminary notice must only be served on the property owner.

All other lien claimants must provide preliminary notice to both the property owner and the general contractor.

Note also that notice may be provided to the construction lender prior to work to attempt to get the mechanics lien priority over the construction mortgage.

In Tennessee, preliminary notice is considered delivered when sent by certified mail, return receipt requested.