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Can you send a notice to owner if you signed a conditional lien waiver with the general contractor?

FloridaJoint ChecksLien WaiversPreliminary Notice

National GC never gave me a 48 written notice for more man power as contract states and they just stared calling another company in, the other company billed me directly. Now the GC wont cut me a payment without me signing paperwork for joint checks. The other company and myself met today and owner said do not sign that form, they are wrong. His company does not have a contract with mine or the GC.

1 reply

Jun 3, 2019
That's an interesting question, and I'm sorry to hear there have been some problems on the job. First, a Notice to Owner is not a payment claim, and it more or less acts like a letter. It can be sent regardless of whether any lien waiver has been exchanged. Of course, a Notice to Owner will only be effective to preserve rights in Florida if it's sent on time - and the notice must be sent within the earlier of (1) 45 days from first furnishing labor or materials, or (2) 45 days from when work begins on making specialty materials (if applicable).

Keep in mind - when a conditional lien waiver is used, no rights are waived until payment is actually received. So, having signed a conditional lien waiver won't affect the ability to pursue payment recovery unless payment is in hand.

As far as joint checks go - if the original contract for work did not open the possibility for joint checks or require that they be used, generally, a construction business can't be forced into using a joint check agreement. So, where one party attempts to unilaterally force the other into using joint checks, that might ultimately serve as grounds for a breach of contract claim if the dispute persists. While pursuing a breach of contract claim might not be the most efficient way to compel payment, it could show that a subcontractor means business and understands their rights.

Further, threatening other claims - like a lien claim - could also help speed up payment. You can learn about that option here: What Is a Notice of Intent to Lien and Should I Send One?

For more info on Florida's lien laws and notice requirements, this resource will be valuable: Florida Lien and Notice FAQs and Overview. For more on Florida lien waivers, this one will help: Florida Lien Waiver Guide and FAQs.
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