Construction Liens Know Your Rights

Whether you are a contractor, subcontractor, or property owner interested in building a new home or renovating your current home, you should know your rights, responsibilities and obligations under Florida’s Construction Lien Law.

Who may file a Claim of Lien?
The following persons are potential lienors: (a) a contractor; (b) a subcontractor; (c) a sub-subcontractor; (d) a laborer; (e) a materialman who contracts with the owner, a contractor, a subcontractor or a sub-subcontractor; or (f) a professional lienor such as an architect or engineer. The lienor must have improved the real property that is the subject of the lien and be owed money for labor, services, materials or other items (the “work”) supplied.

Is notice of lien rights required?
There is a difference between a lienor who has a direct contract with the owner and a lienor who does not have direct contract with the owner. For a contractor to have a valid lien the contractor must have a contract contain specific language on its first page. A lienor who does not have a direct contract with the property owner must serve a Notice to Owner to those listed in Notice of Commencement within forty-five (45) days of the work was supplied to the project or before the owner makes final payment to the contractor and the contractor has given the owner the final contractor’s affidavit, whichever comes first.

How do you perfect a Lien?
A lien must be recorded within ninety (90) days from the last date of work, which does not include punch-list work, warranty work, repair work or corrective work. It is important that a lienor be careful in preparing the lien and not overstate or include items which are improper in the amount of the lien. An exaggerated lien can result in the loss of lien rights and even punitive damages.

Now that a Lien is filed, what’s next? A lienor must file a lawsuit to foreclose the lien within one (1) year from recording of the lien or the lien is automatically discharged. A property owner can shorten the time period for the filing of a lawsuit to 60 days by filing a Notice of Contest of Lien. The prevailing party in a lawsuit to foreclose a lien is entitled to payment of their attorneys’ fees and costs. The above items are not comprehensive with regard to all issues which can arise under Florida’s Lien Law.

Construction Liens Know Your Rights!