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How does a Florida construction lien work?

On Behalf of | Feb 29, 2024 | REAL ESTATE LAW - Real Estate Law |

In Florida, contractors and subcontractors have the right to file a construction lien when they have provided labor, materials or services for the improvement of real property and have not been paid in full.

The legal mechanisms involved in the process of filing a construction lien are designed to protect the interests of those contributing to the construction project by providing a security interest in the property. However, they’re also designed to protect the property’s owner. That makes it critical to understand when and how a construction lien can be filed.

A notice requirement must be met

Under the Florida Construction Lien Law, any licensed contractor, subcontractor, laborer material provider and most other professionals involved in a construction project (such as architects, engineers and interior designers) can file a claim of lien. However, they must provide the proper Notice to Owner in advance.

A Notice to Owner serves as a formal communication notifying the property owner of the existence of potential lien rights. Serving the Notice to Owner within the first 45 days of work not only fulfills the statutory requirements to preserve lien rights but also establishes a transparent line of communication regarding payment expectations. Failing to provide this notice is a critical misstep that can permanently endanger the ability someone has to “perfect” the lien.

Perfecting the lien

A lien is said to be “perfected” when it is properly filed with the appropriate agency — ultimately allowing for enforcement and collection. Once the work is complete and payment remains outstanding, contractors or subcontractors must prepare a Claim of Lien. This document outlines the details of the debt, including the amount owed and a description of the work performed. The Claim of Lien must be recorded with the county clerk’s office in the county where the property is located within 90 days of completing the work, and the property owner must be served within an additional 15 days of that recording.

Protecting your rights as a contractor, subcontractor or other construction professional is essential. It’s easier when you have experienced legal guidance by your side.