The lien waiver process is an essential part of every construction project across the U.S. The right to file a mechanic’s lien provides important financial protection for contractors and subcontractors. Similarly, the right to request a lien waiver protects a project or property owner from the possibility of paying multiple times for the same work. The proper use of lien waivers can greatly facilitate and speed up payments, allowing contractors to maintain steady cash flow and promoting stable pace of construction development. On the other hand, getting the details of a lien waiver wrong can not only destabilize the project but also lead to contentious situations that can potentially end up in a lawsuit. Therefore, practical knowledge of lien waivers is essential for all parties participating in a construction project.
While the general principles related to lien waivers are similar across the U.S., each state regulates the process in a slightly different way according to specific state laws. In this article, you will learn 3 key details governing lien waivers in Florida.
Advanced Waivers Are Unenforceable
The appropriate Florida statutes pertaining to lien waivers provide that a “right to claim a lien may not be waived in advance”. This means that any provision of a construction contract stating that the contractor waives its right to file a mechanic’s lien before providing any labor, services, or materials is automatically unenforceable or invalid. If you are a Florida contractor, this is an important detail to look for in any contract you’re about to sign since an attempt to include such provision may render the whole contract null and void – unless the agreement also includes an appropriate severability clause.
It is important to note, however, that even though advanced waivers are unenforceable in Florida, state laws permit the exchange of unconditional waivers even before the payment is made. That’s why contractors must exercise good judgment and caution before signing an unconditional lien waiver.
Florida Provides Statutory Waiver Forms – But You Don’t Have to Use Them
Admittedly, this detail is often confusing both to contractors and property owners in the Sunshine State. On the one hand, it is true that Florida is one of the 12 states that provide statutory, or state-sponsored, waiver forms. In most of these states, using a waiver form containing language substantially different from the mandatory form automatically invalidates the waiver. However, in Florida, adhering to statutory waivers isn’t mandatory. In fact, even if a lien waiver form is completely dissimilar to the state-sponsored one, all its provisions will be effective as written – with the notable exception of advanced waivers described above.
Due to this fact, contractors faced with a waiver form whose language and provisions are substantially different from the statutory form should exercise extreme caution. Having the form reviewed by a skilled mechanic’s lien lawyer is advised as it can protect a contractor from signing a form containing disadvantageous clauses.
Florida Waivers Don’t Have to Be Notarized
The Florida statutes related to lien waivers do not require waivers to be notarized in order to be effective or enforceable. In fact, only 3 states – Mississippi, Texas, and Wyoming – enforce such a requirement.
Get a Contract or Lien Waiver Review from National Lien & Bond Lawyers
A dubious contract provision or ambiguous language in a lien waiver can put your construction company at a serious disadvantage, leading to late payments and disrupting the stability of your work. Therefore, if you are not sure about potential consequences of a specific statement, provision or requirement in an agreement you’re about to sign, let our skilled attorneys review it for you. National Lien & Bonds lawyers provide a variety of lien-related services across the U.S. We also offer contractors and subcontractors comprehensive legal assistance and representation in case of litigation. Contact us today to schedule a consultation on the issue you’re experiencing.
This blog is for educational purposes only and not intended for legal advice.