I am renovating my condo. My GC has been good on getting lien waiver for progress payments every time a payment is requested and paid. Recently he is no longer providing these waivers for payments that have been made. I have requested them several time and he tells me he is too busy to take care of that.

Once a payment is made to the GC to pay a sub contractor how soon after should he provide me the progress lien waiver for that payment?

My concern is he may not be paying the subs which is why there have been no lein waivers since March. Please advise.

Answered 1 week ago

1542 Answered Questions

Matt Viator

Legal Associate Levelset

That's a good question, and I'm sorry to hear this project has tailed off a bit, at least in terms of obtaining lien waivers. While I'm not able to provide legal advice on how to proceed, let's dig into some information that might be helpful. At the end - I'll share some resources in case you'd like to take a deeper dive on lien waivers.

Anyway, the first thing worth mentioning is that lien waivers don't really have a deadline like some other documents might. Rather than automatically needing to provide lien waivers, lien waivers are typically required by the property owner. Meaning, unless the owner demands that lien waivers be collected and then provided to the owner, contractors typically won't go through the hastle on their own. Because the owner has the best leverage tool available - the project funds - many owners find that if they stipulate waivers must be submitted before any payments will be released, collecting lien waivers becomes a lot easier. No contractor is too busy to make sure that they get paid.

Considering the subcontractors' contact information can likely be obtained from previously submitted lien waivers, it might be a good idea to reach out to subs to make sure that they've been getting paid. Some contractors might get touchy about an owner reaching out directly to subs, but if a contractor hasn't been submitting waivers, directly contacting subs might be the only way to assure that payments have been made.

It's also worth mentioning that, under § 713.06(3)(c)(1) and (d), before making payments to a direct contractor, an owner can require that their contractor provide an affidavit which states that all subs and suppliers have been paid, or alternatively, what they're owed for their work. So, an owner can verify that everyone's receipted payment that way, too.

Finally, it's important to keep relationships in mind. There's always a chance that a contractor has neglected to provide waivers as an oversight or because they actually are busier than normal. At the same time, an owner needs to be confident their job won't go off the rails due to some lower tier payment issue. So, talking out the issue with a contractor and calmly explaining the situation, and why lien waivers are mandatory, might be a better first step than demanding the documentation or requesting an affidavit. Plus, if push comes to shove, those demands or requests can always be made later.

For more information about lien waivers, these resources will be helpful:
(1) Florida Lien Waiver Overview
(2) The Property Owner’s Guide to Lien Waivers
(3) The Ultimate Guide to Lien Waivers.

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