When working with a construction’s liens, knowing what laws and rules apply to your situation can make a big difference in securing a successful outcome. There are several state-issued guidelines that govern the notice, handling, and qualifications for construction liens. These five tips will help you understand what is needed to comply with construction lien laws in the state of Florida.
- Notice to the Owner is Mandatory
It is important to give notice to the owner after initially providing labor or materials. If this is not done, you may risk losing your construction’s liens rights. Any parties who do no contract directly with the property owner must serve a notice to owner with 45 days of providing labor and or materials to the project. The two exceptions to this rule are:
- Individual workers who do not require a notice to owner
- Engineers or other design professionals
Direct contractors may provide the property owner with a list of subcontractors and suppliers that are involved with the project. The contractor is required to provide this information within 10 days. The following rules apply to issuing the notice:
- If hired by a general contractor, the notice should be sent to the property owner
- If the work is hired by a subcontractor, the notice should be sent to the property owner and the general contractor.
- If hired by a sub-contractor, the notice should be sent to the property owner, general contractor, and the sub-contractor.
- If you are unaware of the specific parties, Florida law will allow you to reply on specifically publicly available information.
- When sending the notice to the owner, it must be sent via certified mail with a return receipt requested.
- A Construction’s Lien Must be Filed Within 90 Days of Last Labor
In the state of Florida, construction’s liens must be recorded within 90 days of the last labor completed or materials provided. The three-month period begins when the majority of the work is complete, and corrections to work or warranty work cannot be used towards establishing the deadline. For rental equipment companies, the last date of use is the last date that the equipment was on site and available to the designated parties.
3) You Must Qualify for Lien Rights in the State of Florida
Lien rights are not automatically granted to all citizens in the state of Florida. Generally, the state grants lien rights to contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, rental equipment companies, manual laborers, and other professionals. You are not required to have a written contract for a construction’s lien. The contract may be oral, written, or implied.
Those who do not qualify for construction liens in Florida include:
- Sub sub-contractors
- Suppliers who supply to other suppliers
- Suppliers to sub sub-contractors
- Laborers who do not meet license requirements in the state of Florida
- Maintenance workers
4) Falsifying a Florida Lien Claim Could Cost You Jail Time
When filing a construction lien in Florida, it is important that all information associated with the lien is filed accurately and honestly. Exaggerating the claim on a construction lien is a 3rd degree felony in the state of Florida. Felonies are serious charges which can result in a prison sentence in some cases. Even without conviction, you may still face fines, legal fees, and other consequences if you don’t file your construction lien claim accurately.
Florida law does not permit construction liens to include charges that are not approved. Examples of unapproved charges include unauthorized work orders, unperformed work, or similar claims for damages. Taking care to avoid mistakes is essential when filing claims as it may be difficult to differentiate between accidental mistakes and willful exaggeration or fraud. Lien claimants in the state of Florida should not add costs, lien-related fees, interest, or attorney fees to construction liens. Florida construction lien laws only permit claimants to include the actual permanently improved value of the property.
5) Construction Liens in Florida Have Deadlines
Florida construction liens are only valid for a specific period of time. Filing liens accurately and in a timely manner is critical to securing their value. Generally, a Florida construction lien foreclosure is due within one year from the date the lien is recorded. After this period, the lien expires, unless a lawsuit has been filed to foreclose the property and the lien. Under certain exceptions, the one year timeframe for the lien may be shortened by the property owner to 60 or 20 days from the date of recording. These exceptions include:
- When a property owner gives a notice of contest of lien, the foreclosure period may be reduced to 60 days.
- If the owner or party of interest files a lawsuit or complaint, the county clerk may issue a summons which can reduce the foreclosure period to 20 days.
Other Helpful Information to Know About Florida Construction Liens:
- Florida law requires all construction liens to be notarized in order to be valid.
- Florida construction liens do not require a legal property description, but they should include a basic description of the property for identification purposes.
- In the event of payment, a construction lien may be cancelled by the lienor through a release of lien form or a waiver.
If you are considering filing a construction lien lawsuit, a Florida construction attorney may be able to help. For more information on how we can assist you, contact us today at (407) 537-0543.