One of the most powerful and effective ways parties may ensure payment on work completed for a construction project is by filing a mechanic’s, or construction, lien on a piece of real property. Contractors and subcontractors are frequent users of this tool, as well as material suppliers, architects, and engineers. We have outlined the general steps you need to take in order to file a valid and effective construction lien below, as well as some extra considerations you need to take into account as you navigate the process.
Step 1: Provide a Notice to Owner (for certain parties). Depending on your contractual relationship with the project owner, you might be required to serve a Notice to Owner (NTO) before filing an actual lien. Subcontractors and material suppliers commonly fall under this category. Due to the strict statute of limitations for filing this, many subcontractors (and even contractors) provide an NTO the same day work begins.
Step 2: Ensure you have the right paperwork and are planning to file the lien in the correct jurisdiction within the required time frame. As with the NTO, there is a strict time limit for when construction liens must be filed. In Florida, they must be filed no later than 90 days after the final work has been done on the project. You must also make sure you have standing to file a lien; for example, contractors and subcontractors must be licensed to practice in Florida. If any of these conditions are not met, you will likely not be able to file a valid construction lien.
Step 3: After you have completed the required paperwork and recorded the needed information, you are ready to file. Florida Statute Section 713 lays out the information that must be recorded on the lien. Once you are sure that it is complete, have the form notarized. You may officially file the lien in person at a county clerk’s office, by mail, or electronically. If you plan to file in person, bring along two copies of the lien.
Step 4: Serve the property owner with the lien. A rule of thumb is to serve the owner with the construction lien before you record it with the county clerk. If you record it with the clerk first, you have only 15 days to serve it to the owner. As with other aspects of filing a lien, there are certain requirements for the lien to be considered effectively served.
After you have filed and served the construction lien with all relevant parties, your next actions will determine whether or not you receive payment for services rendered or materials provided. If you are paid, then you are required to release the lien. If not, then you must foreclose on the lien. Both actions must occur within a certain period of time. Florida Construction Law Group would be honored to help you with filing a lien and receiving payment for your hard work. Please get in touch with us today through our website or by calling 305-227-4030.