Construction Liens in Florida
Conflicts commonly arise in construction law regarding contracts and unpaid work. When a customer fails to pay a contractor for work already started, or in some cases, completed, there is legal recourse available for the contractor in order to obtain the money owed. In Florida, a contractor can file a Construction Lien under Chapter 713, Part I of the Florida Statutes. Formerly known as the “Mechanic’s Lien Law,” the statute’s title was changed to the “Construction Lien Law.” It provides a statutory remedy in addition to your right to payment under a contract. Mechanic’s or Construction Liens are available to those who have a contract and have provided labor, service or materials for improvements to real property.
How Do I File a Construction Lien?
In order to file a Construction Lien under Florida law, a contractor, subcontractor, supplier or design professional must follow specific steps to perfect its right to a lien. Determining lien rights starts with whether the contractor is in privity (has a contract with) the owner of the real property. If not, then notice to owner must be served in the manner described in the statute within 45 days of the first furnishing of labor, services or materials.
In addition, a claim of lien must be recorded no later than 90 days after the final furnishing of labor services or materials. The lien must be recorded in the County in which the real property is located. The final furnishing does not include minor items, warranty or punch list work. These items do not extend the deadline to record a lien.
After recording, the lien must be served on the owner within 15 days.
Are There Other Considerations?
There are other considerations depending on the facts. If your contract is with a tenant and not the owner of the real property, it is necessary to determine whether or not your lien extends to only the leasehold interest of the tenant. In some cases, a lien will extend to the landlord-owner’s fee simple interest in the property. This can depend on whether the lease itself required the construction and if the landlord-owner recorded a notice in the public record that meets the statutory requirements to protect its interest. These issues are often fact intensive. Simply because a landlord has recorded a notice does not mean its interest in the property is not subject to liens because the statute includes a number of requirements that must be met.
In addition, if the project is subject to a payment bond such as public works projects or a private payment bond as provided by Florida law, the procedure for perfecting a claim against the payment bond is different and the bond takes the place of the owner’s real property for the purpose of securing the contractor’s claim.
You should also know that the steps required to perfect a Mechanic’s or Construction Lien vary from state to state. It is important to go into each project determining what steps at the outset are required to preserve your rights to payment.
Reach Out to Us for Help Today
If you or someone you know is a contractor who has not been paid or wants to put in place procedures to ensure compliance with the Construction Lien Law and preservation of rights to insist on payment, please contact the experienced attorneys at Hayes Law, P.L., to discuss the claim.