If you furnished labor or materials to a private construction project, the owner may be liable to you for the debt. In Florida, those that furnish labor or materials for the demolition, design, construction or improvement of private construction projects are generally entitled to file a construction or mechanic’s lien which will encumber the owner’s property.
Of all the ways to secure your right to be paid, a Florida construction lien is one of the best. If a lien remains unpaid, the property may be sold at public auction and, subject to any defenses of the owner and any prior liens on the property, the lienor should be paid from the proceeds.
No later than 45 days from your first work on the property, the owner, and possibly the contractor, must receive your Notice to Owner by certified mail. This Notice to Owner (“NTO”) must be sent even if you are not owed any money at the time.
Next, within 90 days of your last work on the project, you must record a Claim of Lien. The Lien must be recorded in the county where the property is located. Within 15 days of recording the Claim of Lien, you must serve a copy of it on the owner and contractor.
If you have a contract with the owner, then the next step needed to perfect your lien rights would be serving the owner with a Contractor’s Final Affidavit. The Contractor’s Final Affidavit must be served via certified mail at least 5 days before you file suit to foreclose on the construction lien.
Finally, no later than one year from the recording date of the Claim of Lien (earlier if you’re served with a Notice of Contest of Lien or other legal processes) you must file a lawsuit in civil court.
Lien law is especially complex, full of deadlines and requirements. The unpracticed and inexperienced would do well to seek the assistance of an expert in the field.
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