By Alexander Barthet

We’ve often written about it – how do you lien a job with multiple direct contracts? Do you file a blanket lien incorporating all the improvements arising out of these several contracts? After all, they’re all related to the same property. How many liens do you need?

Here’s What You Have To Do

You must file a separate lien for each direct contract. Take a shortcut and file only one lien to address various direct contracts on the same property and you could well lose your lien rights. We should know. We recently argued such a case on behalf of our condominium association client and won.

On April 17, 2015, The Daily Business Review reported:

“In a cautionary tale for contractors to dot their i’s and cross all their t’s, a Miami-Dade Circuit Judge has thrown out a lien due to what’s essentially a rookie mistake. The judge delivered a blow to an engineering firm suing a Miami Beach Condominium association for non-payment.”

Don’t Make This Mistake

The judge vacated the lien that had been filed against our client because it failed to comply with applicable Florida law. The engineer had entered into 9 separate contracts for concrete and stucco work, replacement windows, sliding glass doors, cabanas and a new entrance. It then added all the monies still owed under the 9 contracts into one lien, something the law does not allow.  Clearly, the consequences for any contractor, or in this case, an engineer, relying on what ended up being a faulty filing to secure payment can be costly. Liens can be filed only within 90 days of work being performed and once those 90 days expire, there’s no fixing the error of having filed just one lien to cover multiple contracts. Don’t make this mistake. Make sure your critical liens are reviewed by a construction lawyer, especially if you’re not totally familiar with the lien law which unfortunately is  very unforgiving.