One of the best and most efficient ways to help ensure payment as a construction contractor is to file a mechanic’s lien. A lien, in general terms, is a legal guarantee that the lienor (person who filed the lien) gets money if the property is ever sold. There may be multiple liens on one project or property, which is one reason why contractors should file a lien as soon as they believe it would be beneficial.
This blog will walk through the general process of filing a mechanic’s lien and enforcing the lien through a foreclosure action.
Step 1: File the lien in accordance with Florida law.
The most important thing to keep in mind at the beginning is the deadline for filing a Florida mechanic’s lien. As long as you are privy to the project’s prime contract, you have 90 days from the project’s last work to file a lien. If the prime contract was terminated earlier than the project’s last work, you must file within 90 days of that contract termination.
The lien itself must contain certain information about the project and be filed with the county clerk’s office where the project is located.
Step 2: Send notice to interested parties.
After filing your mechanic’s lien, the real work begins. Florida law requires lienors to file copies with the project’s interested parties within 15 days of the lien’s filing. Copies should go out to developers, owners, lenders, subcontractors, and material suppliers.
In many cases, simply giving notice that you are planning to file a lien will get you the payment. A Notice of Intent to Lien is not required in Florida, but it may result in payment all the same.
Step 3: Consider filing a foreclosure lawsuit to enforce the lien.
You’ve filed a lien and haven’t heard anything from the project owner despite the lien notice and multiple attempts to contact them. It might be time to tighten the screws.
Under normal circumstances, the lienor in Florida has one year from the date of the lien’s recording to bring a foreclosure action. However, that statute of limitations can be drastically shortened in two ways. One, the property owner can file a Notice of Contest of Lien to shorten it to 60 days. Two, the deadline can be changed to just 20 days if the interested party comes back with a counter-lawsuit after receiving notice of the lien.
Step 4: Talk with your lawyer and turn over everything.
Your attorney should handle all the technical requirements, like filing the foreclosure lawsuit with the appropriate court and arranging for service of process to the other parties. However, you can do your part by giving your attorney relevant documents, contracts, pictures, and other information. Being transparent and forthcoming can help your case.
A successful case will usually result in a sale of the property or project. You may have to wait before you get the money you are owed. In some cases, successful claimants (lienors who enforce their liens by filing a foreclosure action) receive reimbursement for attorney’s fees.
A Skilled Attorney is Your Greatest Resource
Filing and recording a mechanic’s lien requires great attention to detail, as does ensuring you did so in the appropriate amount of time. Filing a foreclosure lawsuit to collect on that lien is much more complex; hiring an experienced attorney is the best thing to do. You deserve to be paid for the work you did, and our firm would be glad to help make that happen. Call us at 305-227-4030 or fill out a form on our website to get in touch with Florida Construction Law Group.