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Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>Can I place a lien on a property when Interior design services for furniture where given to owner without a contract? At least 20 design hours were used, I did go to their home to measure, as all sessions were made in good faith that they would purchase from me.

Can I place a lien on a property when Interior design services for furniture where given to owner without a contract? At least 20 design hours were used, I did go to their home to measure, as all sessions were made in good faith that they would purchase from me.

FloridaRight to Lien

My boss who is not a designer, is the proprietor of the shop were I work. He rendered services accumulating over 20 billable hours, plus travel time back and forth from Market. He has sent over a bill to clients for said services. The clients refused to pay because they never signed any contract and ultimately did not purchase from us. My boss entered into this project with good faith that they would purchase from us as it was implied verbally by client. He has measurements and images from the space and timed sessions describing activity. Can we in the state of Florida County of Brevard.

3 replies

Jul 15, 2019
That's a good question, and I'm sorry to hear you've had trouble on this project. First, it's worth noting that interior design services will generally not give rise to mechanics lien rights in Florida. In order for mechanics lien rights to arise, there must typically be some permanent improvement to the project property - such as construction work, plumbing, HVAC, etc. Further, planning the work generally isn't enough to constitute the improvement of property. Most importantly, though - mechanics liens tie directly to the project property where work is done. So, when work is done on a property but not paid for, a filed mechanics lien ties directly to the property, itself, rather than a particular person. So, if work was done for a prospective purchaser of a property but that property isn't actually owned by the would-be purchaser, then any potential lien rights would only arise in that property itself, not against the prospective purchasers.

If there was a valid and enforceable verbal agreement to pay for the services provided, other recovery methods - like pursuing payment in small claims court - might be a better option.
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Nov 16, 2019
FS 713.79 interior designer services furnishings
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Jul 22, 2020

Without a written contract, it makes a lien claim very hard to justify. Did the homeowner us your design, and just purchase it from another person? Florida recently changed its interior design licensing statute, so depending on the timing of all of this, that could impact whether you would qualify for a design professional's lien under Chapter 713. 

Depending on the nature of your service, it may be worth having a short agreement letting people know they may be responsible for design services if they don't buy from you; or alternatively, letting them know that designs are your intellectual property unless they buy from you. Those documents may not support a lien, but they would more clearly support a claim against a homeowner for stealing your work. 

I suggest you contact an attorney to discuss what other rights you might have. Feel free to reach out if you have further questions. 

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