Imagine, as a contractor or subcontractor, you are performing renovations to a customer’s home per their specifications as delineated in the direct contract. Then imagine that after completion of the work, the customer rants and raves at how great of a job you have done for them renovating their home. However, it is soon thereafter that you are also informed by the customer that they will not be paying you the money owed to you under the direct contract. As far fetched as this may sound, it is a stark and unfortunate reality that the owner of a property in which you worked on could ultimately refuse to pay your invoices. Fortunately, Florida law has taken situations similar to these into account by the creation of a mechanism for one to place a lien on the property on which work was
performed. This article will discuss the necessary processes for putting a valid Claim of Lien on a property in which you did work but were not paid.
The first thing to take into consideration when you sit down with the Florida attorney is your relationship to the owner of the subject property. For instance, if you are a contractor hired directly by the owner, your obligations before filing a valid Claim of Lien would differ from someone without a direct contract with the owner such as a subcontractor or a sub-subcontractor. Please note that sub-sub-subcontractors may not be able to avail themselves of the particular remedies discussed in this article. Your Florida construction attorney will be able to help explain your status and how to proceed in collecting the monies you are owed.
When a contractor is ready to file a Claim of Lien, all he or she may have to do is record a Claim of Lien with the Clerk of where the property where the work was performed is located. After that, the contractor would be responsible for serving onto the owner a Final Payment Affidavit which notifies the owner that specific work has been performed at the subject property and that monies are owed by the owner to the contractor (or any subcontractors the contractor may have hired). The Final Payment Affidavit will be the final attempt by the contractor to collect payment before filing a lawsuit to foreclose on the Claim of Lien. Your Florida
construction attorney will explain to you that this must be served onto the owner at least five days before filing suit for foreclosure of the Claim of Lien.
The procedures for a subcontractor or a sub-subcontractor trying to impose a lien on the subject property differ slightly. For instance, for a subcontractor or a sub-subcontractor to start the process, they would have to send to the owner of the subject property, and the contractor under which they have contracted, a notice explaining the work that is to be, or has been, performed, describing the property where such work is to be, or has been, performed, along with other important information and requirements which your Florida construction attorney will be able to help identify. It is important to remember that this notice must be served onto the owner and contractor before beginning work on the subject property or within forty-five days of commencing work. After the notice is served, the subcontractor or sub-subcontractor have ninety days to record their Claim of Lien with the Clerk of whatever particular county the work was
Construction Law is very detailed and procedural, which means that there may be other requirements that may be attended to in order to perfect your lien, whether you are a contractor, subcontractor, or otherwise. Your Florida construction attorney will be able to guide you through the finer details.
After the lien is perfected, it would be important to discuss with the Florida attorney the steps which need to be taken to file your action to foreclose on your lien and collect the money which is to be paid. It is a lengthy process, but if you have questions or concerns about claims of lien, construction law, or other Florida legal services, please contact Apfelbaum
Law for a consultation. We can be reached at 772-236-4009, or [email protected]
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.