A business trial lawyer may hear this question or something similar a number of times. The short answer is, “It depends.”
Most of the time, a person or business doesn’t have a right to record a claim of lien in the public records unless the person or business is a contractor, materialman, or supplier. In those circumstances, if the person or business meets other requirements of Florida’s lien law, then it may be appropriate to record a claim of lien.
It’s important to recognize that in most circumstances, however, there is no pre-judgment right to record a lien against real property just because the owner may owe money to a person or business.
A word of caution
Recording a claim of lien, in the absence of a valid basis to do so, can subject a person or business to a claim for attorneys’ fees or damages for slander of title. In the case of a fraudulent lien, the party against whom the lien was recorded has a complete defense to the foreclosure of the fraudulent lien. This can be decisive in a lawsuit against a debtor, as the creditor may have to compromise his or her total amount of damages sought in order to account for the damages or attorneys’ fees incurred in by the debtor defending against a fraudulent lien. The state attorney may even prosecute the filer of a fraudulent lien for a third degree felony.
While a minor mistake in preparing an otherwise valid claim of lien won’t render the lien fraudulent, the law of liens can be complicated. It’s important to consult your lawyer.