In an April 9, 2015 post, Scott Beatty gave some great tips to owners on how to avoid paying twice for labor, services, or materials provided on a contraction job. This post looks at another facet of the same issue and provides tips to lienors on how best to preserve and enforce their lien rights on a construction job.
Although Florida’s construction lien law is dense, nuanced, and rife with pitfalls, adherence to the following steps will cover your necessary bases in the vast majority of situations where you are working on private/non-government owned property:
Before You Begin Work
- Ensure the property owner has recorded a proper Notice of Commencement.
- Ensure the property owner is aware you are working on the owner’s property.
- If your contract is directly with the owner, the owner obviously has general notice of your presence on the job, but your contract with the owner should (and must in certain situations) include within it the lien law notice provision required by Section 713.015, Florida Statutes.
- If your contract is not directly with the owner, you must provide a formal Notice to Owner within the earlier of the following:
- Before or not later than 45 days of first performing work on the jobsite (whether furnishing labor, services or materials); or
- Before the making of final payment in reliance upon a final contractor’s affidavit.
After the Work is Complete
- Ensure you timely file your claim of lien. Your claim of lien must be properly recorded within 90 days of last performing work (whether labor, services, or materials), then the claim of lien must be served on the owner within 15 days of recording.
- Ensure you timely file suit to enforce your claim of lien. Suit must be filed within the earliest of the following:
- One year from the date of recording;
- If a notice of contest of lien is recorded, within 60 days of when the clerk certifies it served the notice of contest; or
- If a 20-day summons to show cause has been served, within 20 days of service of the summons.
Further, if your contract is directly with the owner, you must provide a final contractor’s affidavit at least five days prior to filing suit to enforce your claim of lien.
Print or bookmark this post for use as a checklist before you begin your next job. As I mentioned at the beginning, however, Florida’s construction lien law is dense, nuanced, and rife with pitfalls. Accordingly, if you have any questions about, or would like assistance with, navigating the lien law process now or in the future, take a few minutes to be proactive and consult legal counsel, rather than risk losing the best leverage you have to make sure you are paid on your next job—your lien rights.