At some point, almost every homeowner in Florida is going to need to hire someone for repairs or to make improvements to their home. If you are one of the parties contracted to work on the property, you may need to file a mechanic lien at some point.
There are certain protections for homeowners, and advisories to help them understand how to handle payments for multiple bills that may be from unknown subcontractors, suppliers, etc. For the contractor, there are also strict legal requirements and guidelines that must be followed to perfect a mechanic lien, otherwise you may forfeit your rights later on.
Initial Notice to Owner
Florida’s mechanic lien statute §713.06(2)(a) mandates the requirements for the Notice to Owner. The purpose is to preserve your rights for the mechanic lien and to help you get paid faster. For parties who did not contract directly with the home or property owner, you must serve them with a Notice to Owner no later than 45 days from furnishing materials and/or labor. There are several exceptions to this regulation: architects, other design professionals, or any individual wage-laborers are not required to send the notice.
The property owner also has the right to ask their direct contractors for a list of all suppliers and subcontractors working on the property. In this case, the contractor only has 10 days to put together a list of everyone involved.
The object of this document is to put the property or home owner on notice that someone else has provided services or materials. This helps the owner know who to pay because they know the funds should go to the lienor who provided the materials or labor.
Filing Requirements for a Mechanic Lien
The lien laws vary a bit in Florida from some other states. While some states count the lien deadline from the end of the entire project, Florida requires you file your mechanic lien within 90 days from the final day that you provided materials, services, or labor on the project. The countdown starts when the majority of your work is finished, and you are not allowed to include time for things like warranty work, correcting defects, etc. If you are an equipment rental company, the final date is the final date the equipment was physically on site and available for use.
Exception for Lien Rights
Not every person who works on a project will be eligible to file a mechanic lien. Some of these parties include:
- A subcontractor that a subcontractor hires (sub-subcontractor)
- Anyone Florida law requires to be licensed but is not
- Supplier to supplier
- Supplier to sub-subcontractor
- Maintenance worker in some cases
Limited Time to Enforce
Recording a mechanic lien doesn’t mean it’s effective indefinitely. Unless you file a lawsuit for foreclosure on the property, once the time passes, the lien expires. Typically, the lien foreclosure action is required to be filed within one year from the date of recording.
Retaining a Florida Commercial Litigation Attorney
Mechanic liens are complex, that is why it’s important to speak with an experienced West Palm Beach commercial litigation attorney. Contact the team of Pincus & Currier LLP at 561-868-1340 to schedule a consultation.