Florida lien laws are in place to ensure contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and other construction related service providers receive payment for material and labor provided during construction improvements to privately held property. Lien laws, however, come with very specific filing procedures defined within Chapter 713 of the Florida Statutes. If each step is not followed within these guidelines, you could forfeit any opportunity to recover your losses.
Where the law gets very specific is the timelines in which documents and notices should be delivered to remain valid. To guide you through the lien process, our St. Petersburg construction lawyers from Cotney Construction Law have outlined key time tables through each phase of the construction process.
Phase 1: Prior to Supplying Service
Prior to initiation of the construction project, the first document to be filed is the “Notice of Commencement.” This document is to be prepared, signed, and posted to the job site no more than 90 days before improvements begin. The commencement remains valid for one year, unless the commencement is amended or terminated prior to the one-year time period.
Phase 2: Before Improvements are Completed
There are a few requests that can be made during the construction process that relate to lien laws. At any time during the construction process, the owner may request a list of all subcontractors and suppliers involved with the improvements to their property. The general contractor has up to 10 days from the time of the request to supply this information.
From the first day of delivering service or the supplying of materials, a subcontractor not in direct contract with the owner has 45 days to serve a “Notice to Owner” to all parties involved with the project including the owner, lender, and general contractor. At any point before a lienor files a claim of lien, the owner may request a sworn statement from the lienor regarding their account of unpaid services or materials. The lienor must supply this statement to the owner within 30 days of the request. The request must be formatted according to the requirements of the Florida Statutes, so it is recommended to consult with a St. Petersburg construction lawyer to assist with these filings and requests.
Phase 3: After Improvements are Completed
After filing the “Notice to Owner,” the official lien is to be filed within 90 days of the final furnishings of service or 90 days from the termination of the contract between the general contractor and the owner, whichever comes first. The lienor, then, must serve a copy of the lien within 15 days of filing the document. After filing the lien, a lienor may also request a sworn statement from the owner describing all contracts, dates, and payments. If the owner does not provide the statement within 30 days, the owner will have no opportunity to recover attorney fees associated with the lien suit.
Phase 4: After Filing the Lien
The lien remains valid for up to one year from the date of filing unless the lien is satisfied, a “Notice of Contest” is made, a summons to show cause for the lien is filed, or the lienor files suit on the lien. If a suit is not filed within one year, the lien may not be renewed and the lien rights of the contractor may expire. It is best to consult with a construction lawyer in St. Petersburg to decide the best strategy to ensure proper compensation and recovery.
It’s easy to see that Florida’s Construction Lien Law can be very complicated, so to avoid mistakes in the filing process, it is highly recommended to speak with a team of experienced construction lawyers who can easily guide you through the process.
To speak with a contractor lawyer from Cotney Construction Law, please call 813.579.3278 or submit our contact request form.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.