Question

How Do I Protect My Right To Record A Claim Of Lien Against Property In Florida?

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Ian Kravitz - Construction Litigation - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Ian Kravitz

Located in Fort Lauderdale, FLMalka & Kravitz, P.A.

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In Florida, some involved in the construction industry (lienors) have the right to record a claim of lien, sometimes referred to as a mechanic’s lien, against the property for the reasonable value of the labor, materials or services they furnished to improve the property. Florida’s construction lien law recognizes the following as lienors:

  • Contractor: One having a contract with the property owner.
  • Subcontractor: One having a contract with the contractor.
  • Sub-subcontractor: One having a contract with the subcontractor.
  • Laborer: Any person (other than a professional) who personally performs labor or services for improving the property and does not provide labor service or materials for others.
  • Materialman: One who contracts with the owner, a contractor, a subcontractor or a sub-subcontractor to furnish materials, not performing labor.
  • Professional: Includes architects, landscape architects, interior designers, engineers, surveyors and mappers.

 

Each type of lienor has different obligations to protect their lien rights. For example:

A contractor must serve a contractor’s final payment affidavit when the final payment is due and at least five days before filing a lawsuit to enforce the lien.

A subcontractor must serve a Notice to Owner (NTO) no later than 45 days after beginning to furnish his or her material, labor or services, but, in any event, before the date of the owner’s disbursement of the final payment after the contractor has furnished their final payment affidavit. 

Sub-subcontractors must serve an NTO on the owner and the contractor, no later than 45 days after beginning to furnish services, materials or labor, but, in any event, before the date of the owner’s final payment after the contractor provided a final payment affidavit. 

Laborers have the right to lien the property for any money owed to them for the labor furnished to improve the property. Laborers are not required to serve an NTO.

Materialmen must serve an NTO on the owner (unless they have a direct contract with the owner) and on the contractor. A materialman to a sub-subcontractor must also serve the NTO on the subcontractor within 45 days after beginning to provide materials, services or labor, but, in any event, before the date of the owner’s last payment after the contractor provided a final payment affidavit. 

Professionals have the right to record a claim of lien against the real property improved for any money owed to them for their services used in connection with improving the real property or in supervising any portion of the work of improving the real property.

Any professional who has a direct contract with the owner has the right to lien, regardless of whether the real property is actually improved. Professionals are not required to serve an NTO or a contractor’s final payment affidavit. 

All lienors must record their claim of lien not later than 90 days after furnishing all labor, services and materials, and must file an action in court within one year of recording their claim. Otherwise, the claim of lien expires. Certain exceptions apply that may reduce the time for lienors to file an action in court. 

These matters are very complex and require strict compliance, or you may lose your lien rights. You should consult with an attorney experienced in Florida’s construction lien law.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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