If you’re working in Florida, you need to be familiar with the rules around filing a notice to owner and filing a mechanics lien. Florida, like many states, allows you to place a lien on the property for the full value of the work performed. If you run into a situation where you’re just not getting paid, it may be past time for you to start the process. Anytime you work in a new state, be sure to research the state’s construction laws and regulations before you start the project.
Timeline and Steps for Filing and Enforcing a Mechanics Lien
If you are contracting directly with the owner of the property, you are only required to provide a list of subcontractors and suppliers within 10 days of a request for this information. You are not required to provide a notice to owner. It is wise, however, to collect information in a job sheet before beginning work that contains all the information you may need in the event you have to file a lien.
For subcontractors, you should send a preliminary notice to owner [link to previous article] either 45 days after you commence working or at the latest, sometime before the property owner’s final payment to the general contractor. In addition to serving a copy on the owner, you should also serve a copy on any contractor up the chain, including the general contractor.
If payment is not forthcoming and you reach the point where you have to file a mechanics lien, be sur to file it within 90 days of the completion of your work. You must then serve the lien on the owner within an additional 15 days. This can be accomplished either by serving it personally or sending it via registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, or if no other method of service is available, by posting the notice on the premise.
After you’ve recorded your mechanics lien in the Florida county in which you’re working, you have one year to begin any necessary legal action to enforce your rights. At the end of this year, your action must be underway or you need to remove the lien.
Details about Florida Mechanics Liens
In Florida, your mechanics lien need to contain enough information to sufficiently identify the property in question and does not need a full legal property description. However, keep in mind, especially on new construction, that there might not yet be an official street address and you’d be smarter to define the property based on plat and tract numbers or other more specific methods of identification.
When putting together your documents, you also want to make sure your mechanics lien is notarized by a Florida notary. You can find a notary at your attorney’s office, at your bank, or it may be worthwhile to have someone in your office registered as a notary.
On most construction projects, as you are paid for your labor or materials, you’ll be requested to sign statutory lien waiver forms. Florida law prohibits contractors and suppliers from waiving their rights to file a mechanics lien.
If you need help understanding Florida law, or want someone to handle your mechanics lien process, contact the team at National Lien & Bond. We are experts in construction law and can help handle your Florida mechanics lien and any subsequent collections actions expertly and efficiently.