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Can an unlicensed contractor file a lien in the state of Florida?

FloridaRight to Lien

Completed a bathroom for a customer who refused to pay $800 that he owed. Job was complete and they approved it

2 replies

Sep 4, 2018
That's a good question, and it's one we get fairly often here. In Florida, an unlicensed contractor will not have the right to file a lien if licensure is required for the type of work performed. If no license was required for the type of work performed, then being unlicensed will not prevent a claimant from filing a valid lien. Like many other states, Florida is home to a "handyman exception" for smaller works of improvement, and on projects that fit into the handyman exception, licensure is not required (meaning a lien might be filed). However, if work is performed on any of the following, the handyman exception will not apply: foundations, structural walls, plumbing, electrical, asbestos abatement. Note that the list is not totally comprehensive - and if any work is performed that would require licensure, that work would not be lienable by an unlicensed party. Finally, it's worth noting that sending a Notice of Intent to Lien can be effective to compel payment without actually having to file a lien. A Notice of Intent to Lien acts like a warning shot - it states that, if payment is not made, a lien will be filed. Regardless of whether a claimant may ultimately file a valid mechanics lien, the mere threat of a lien can be enough to compel payment since mechanics liens represent such a drastic remedy. You can learn more about that idea here: Notice Of Intent To Lien May Be Enough To Get You Paid. Plus, here's another article that may be helpful: Other Options For Recovery.
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Apr 15, 2022
Hi Matt, Does whole house exterior wall painting part of the handyman exception? It's a little unclear that professional painting needs license while handyman can do some painting work with license. Thanks.
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