Construction Lien Claims
Florida law allows certain construction parties who work on a property or provide materials, and are not paid-in-full, to file a lien against the property of the owner. This is known as Florida's Construction Lien Law and is set out in Chapter 713 of the Florida Statutes. A construction lien claim serves to protect professionals through legal recourse to get paid. If a service or materials provider files a construction lien against a property owner’s real estate, it makes it difficult for the owner to sell or refinance the property without first paying off the debts secured by the lien. If you wish to file a construction lien or need representation from a lien filed against you, at Warner, Sechrest & Butts, P.A., we can provide you with a construction law attorney.
Who Holds Florida Lien Rights?
Contractors, subcontractors, sub-subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers, and designers are the main parties who hold lien rights. Filing a construction lien is a great resource for such parties to ensure proper payment by the property owner or general contractors of a construction project.
How to File a Lien Claim in Florida
In Florida, the law requires that a claim of lien be prepared and filed by either the lienor or a licensed attorney. The process for a lien can be complicated and time consuming, that is why it is encouraged to seek the counsel of Gainesville construction law attorneys prior to filing the claim. An experienced attorney can ensure the proper preparation of a lien and that filing procedures are followed.
- The Notice to Owner (NTO), is a form that established the right of a potential lienor to file a claim against a property owner or general contractors. All potential lienors who do not have a direct contract with the owner are required by the Florida Statutes to provide a preliminary NTO within 45 days of providing labor or materials in order to preserve their lien rights.
- To serve the NTO, the property owner or general contractors must receive a copy of the form in person or through mail with a signature upon delivery.
- Within 90 days of the last services or materials provided for the construction project, a claim of lien must be recorded. Failure to record the claim within 90 days could render the lien null and void.
- To avoid a claim of lien being rendered voidable, Florida law requires the lienor to serve a copy of the claim to the property owner before recording the claim or within 15 days of recording.
Liens should be carefully scrutinized before filing against the owner. Care must be taken not to exaggerate the amount owed and make certain that all technical aspects of the lien filing are performed properly. Failure to do so may result in sanctions for fraudulent lien filing and/or for prevailing party attorney fees that are provided under the statute. These fees often amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars due to the complex nature of lien law and construction litigation.
Protecting Yourself Against a Claim
A Release of Lien is a written statement that removes an owner’s property from the threat of a lien claim. A lien release covering the materials used and work performed on your property should be required from all trades, vendors, suppliers, and contractors who provide an NTO prior to releasing any payment. Otherwise, the property owner risks paying twice if the contractor fails to pay his suppliers or contractors for their corresponding work. In most commercial settings, our construction lawyers advise the owner to require a payment and performance bond of the contractor under Florida Statute 713.23. This will increase the costs to construct the project for the cost of the bond, but it will greatly reduce risks on the construction project.
Gainesville Construction Attorney for Lien Claims
Filing a lien claim or defending yourself against one can be quite difficult without the right expertise. At Warner, Sechrest & Butts, P.A., our attorneys are highly knowledgeable and experienced to help you through every step of the process. Contact us today for a construction lawyer in Gainesville, FL, you can rely on.