A lien is an important tool for contractors, subcontractors, laborers, material-men or professionals including architects and engineers to ensure they receive all payments owed to them for construction work.
A contractor that has entered into a contract directly with the property owner of the property does not need to provide any notice to the property owner. However, often times subcontractors, suppliers, or material-men, are not in direct contract with the property owner. For example, the contractor who entered into a direct contract with the owner may then contract with a subcontractor or supplier. In that case, the parties not in direct contract with the property owner, must provide a Notice to Owner within 45 days of beginning to furnish services in order to preserve their right to record a claim of lien.
Who can Record a Construction Lien on my Property?
Most contractors, subcontractors, laborers, material-men, or professionals hired to improve, or make improvements to, a property which cost more than $2,500 can file a construction lien. Improvements include anything from installing carpeting or wallpaper to building an extension of a structure.
How to File a Construction Lien in Florida?
A claim of lien must be recorded within 90 days of the last day lien-able services were furnished for the property.
The contractor or an attorney needs to draft a lien and record it in the county where the improved property is located. The claim must include the lienor’s name and address, the name of whom the lienor entered into a contract with, the labor services or materials furnished, description of the property, the name of the property owner, the time the lienor last furnished lien-able services, the outstanding amount owed to the lienor, and, if necessary, when the Notice to Owner was served.
Once the claim is recorded, the lienor must serve the property owner with a copy within 15 days of recording or the lien will be rendered void.
How to Contest Construction Lien in Florida?
In Florida, construction liens expire after one year. That means, before a year passes, if the owner does not pay all outstanding amounts, the lienor must sue to foreclose on their lien. If the lienor does not sue within one year, the lien is no longer enforceable.
However, property owners who believe that a lien on their property is frivolous or contains mistakes, may shorten the one-year time period. The property owner may either file a Contest of Lien or a Complaint to Show Cause. Filing a Contest of Lien shortens the time period the lienor has to foreclose to 60 days. If the lienor does not commence the action within 60 days, the lien is automatically extinguished. Filing a Complaint to Show Cause shortens the time period to 20 days, within which the lienor must show cause as to why the lien should not be vacated or canceled. If the lienor does not show cause within 20 days, the lien is automatically extinguished.
How to Remove a Construction Lien in Florida
If the lienor receives all amounts owed before the period to foreclose expires, the lienor must release the lien. A release of lien must be signed by the lienor or their attorney and filed in the county where the property is located, stating that the lien has been satisfied.