Florida Construction Lien Law is located in Chapter 713 of the Florida Statutes. Under these laws, a lienor has a right to enforce their lien, against real property, if the money they are owed, arose from their provision of labor, services or materials resulting in the improvement of the property. These claims are referred to as “Construction,” or “Mechanic’s Liens.” In Florida, even if the homeowner has paid the contractor in full, the homeowner could still be liable for money owed to third parties.

untitled11Florida law expands the homeowner’s responsibility to protect the rights of lienors you may have never dealt with. These “nonprivity” lienors are those that don’t have a direct contract with the owner. This has been justified on the idea that the owner probably possesses the money to pay for the benefit they ultimately received. Congratulations, you have just become your contractor’s guarantor. It doesn’t seem fair, but it is the law. Thankfully, there are proactive steps a homeowner can and should take to limit their exposure.  By becoming compliant with the Construction Lien Law, they can prevent or greatly limit the possibility of paying more than once for their construction project.

Similar to what would happen if you quit paying your mortgage, if a lienor files a claim of lien and attempts to enforce it, your home could be foreclosed upon and sold.

Who is a Lienor?

Under Florida law, lienors include, but are not limited to, contractors, subcontractors, sub-subcontractors, laborers and material suppliers who have contributed to the improvement of your real property, architects, and engineers. Any lienor, whether they had a contract with the owner directly, or merely with a contractor or subcontractor, potentially have the right to enforce a claim of lien on your property if they are left unpaid.

Who is not a Lienor?

There are many classes of individuals who are not covered under Chapter 713: Sub-sub-subcontractors, a materialman to a materialman, an unlicensed contractor, a materialman’s fabricator, persons working on public land, or someone working for a company that is bonded.

45-day Prelien Notice to Owner

Parties who did not contract (orally or in writing) directly with the property owner must deliver a Notice to Ownerwithin 45 days of furnishing labor or materials. If you didn’t deliver a preliminary notice from the onset, you will have a difficult time enforcing your lien. However, a materialman, laborer, or contractor who had direct contact and dealings with the owner (in privity) need not file a notice to owner but must file a contractor’s final affidavit.

90-Day Claim Filing Deadline

Claimants in Florida must record their construction lien within 90 days from the last day they furnished labor, services, or materials to a construction project. The 90-day period starts to run when the majority of the work is completed. 

1-Year Statute of Limitations

In Florida, construction liens are not perpetual and are only valid for a defined period of time. After that, the lien expires as a matter of law. The exception to this is if the Lienor files a lawsuit to foreclose upon the property within 1 year from the lien’s recording.

However, the 1-yearforeclosure period can be shortened to as little as 60 daysif a Notice of Contest is filed, or 20 daysif owner files suit.

A Florida Court once declared, “There can be no more confusing statute in Florida than the one on liens under Chapter 713. The frequent impracticality of it application in the field, coupled with ill conceived, confusing, patchwork amendments, all topped off by conflicting appellate decisions, have all combined to make life miserable for judges, lawyers, legislators and the vitally affected construction and lending industries.”

This discussion does not even begin to scratch the surface on the requirements imposed by Florida’s Construction Lien Law. Nevertheless, I am sure you’re starting to notice, this is not an area you should feel comfortable treading without legal guidance.

By its very nature, this is a generalized discussion, not intended for any particular set of facts.  By no means does this blog create an attorney-client relationship or attorney-client privilege between the attorney and the readers. The law frequently changes as new cases are decided and published regularly. Anything relied upon in this or any blog, is done so at the readers own risk.

VERNON W. GUIRGUIS, ESQ.                                                                                                                                                                                        

The Guirguis Law Firm, PLLC
“Your Rights are My Fights!”™
1423 S.E. 16th Place, STE 204
Cape Coral, Florida 33990
239.573.9939 Telephone
239.603.6965 Facsimile

Posted on April 3, 2013, in Legal and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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  1. Pingback: FLORIDA CONSTRUCTION LIEN LAW | PropertyGuiding | Construction Lien Services

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