Florida’s construction lien law has been described by one court as a statute that “makes life miserable for judges, lawyers, legislators and the vitally affected construction and lending industries.” The statute provides a powerful mechanism for those who supply materials and labor to a project to ensure payment, and it also provides a regimented framework for owners to ensure that they only pay once for work done on a project. But the statute is often viewed as confusing and difficult to comply with. The construction law attorneys at Berlin Patten Ebling can help contractors navigate the statute’s requirements, and ensure that they get paid for their hard work. They can also ensure that an owner is not saddled with an improper claim for payment, or an improper lien that clouds title to their property.
What property can be liened?
Generally, only privately owned property can be liened. If the property that you are seeking to lien is owned by a County, a municipality or another government entity, it is exempt from Florida’s construction lien law.
When should I record a lien?
The Florida Statutes require that a Claim of Lien be recorded within 90 days from the date that a lienor last furnished services or material. If the lien is not recorded during that time period, it is ineffective and may lead to a fraudulent lien claim against the lienor. Some follow-up work can extend the 90-day period, but minor follow up repairs (punch-list items) typically will not. An attorney can advise you if you are within your 90-day window to record a lien.
A Claim of Lien is generally valid for one year after the date that it is recorded, and will expire after that period. However, if an owner properly contests the lien, the deadline for filing a suit is shortened to 60 days. A Claim of Lien must be served on the owner within 15 days of recording the lien.
Can an unlicensed contractor take advantage of the Mechanic’s Lien law?
No. Any lien recorded by an unlicensed contractor can be declared unenforceable.
What is a Notice of Commencement?
A Notice of Commencement is a document prepared and recorded by the owner of the property that will be worked on. It provides the name and address of the owner, and causes anyone who performs services or delivers material to the project to provide the owner with a Notice to Owner if they intend to secure their claim for payment. Once a Notice of Commencement is recorded, the owner is protected from any claims of subcontractors that they have not contracted with, and who failed to provide a Notice to Owner.
What is a Notice to Owner?
A Notice to Owner is a document that is sent to the owner of a project by any party that does not have a contract with the owner. It should also be sent to the general contractor on the project, and to any lender that is identified in a Notice of Commencement. The document is important to ensure that a subcontractor gets paid for labor or materials that it furnishes to a project. It usually must be served on the owner within 45 days of the date that materials are delivered or work is first performed on a project – the failure to abide by that deadline will result in the inability to record a lien for any work that is not paid for.
Help! My property has been improperly liened!
You’ve come to the right place. After a consultation with us, you will know whether or not the lien on your property is proper and whether it is still effective. We can also explain what options you have for removing the lien, and recovering damages or attorney’s fees from the party who improperly recorded it.