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Construction lien

FloridaMechanics Lien

We fired our GC last summer after we became fed up with project delays and the poor quality of work. He performed general construction, electrical and plumbing work. I have asked for and not received copies of his licences and insurance. I cannot find a GC license in the name of his company on line. I strongly suspect that he is not licensed and neither were the sub contractors that he used. Communication came to an end before Setpember. Recently we received notification that he has placed a construction lien for $1000 on our home yet it was filed almost a month prior to this notification. We did not receive a NTO or intent to lien although he claims in the lien to have sent one by certified mail. There are still issues in the home as a result of his work. We are going to repair these ourselves over time but I expect they will cost in excess of $1000 to resolve. Am I correct in thinking that the lien is invalid because a) no notice of intent b) over 90 days since work stopped and c) not delivered with 15 days of being filed ? This is aside from him possibly being unlicensed. What should I do next and what more can he do? Thanks

1 reply

Mar 6, 2019
I'm sorry to hear you've had problems with this project. I should note, though, that I'm unable to advise you on how to proceed or to provide you with legal advice. However, I am able to provide some relevant legal information that should help you come to your own conclusions. With that in mind, let's look at some Florida specifics. First, let's look at notice. In Florida, parties who have not contracted directly with the property owner must send Notice to Owner, but direct contractors and wage laborers need not send preliminary notice. Further, while a Notice of Intent to Lien can be a helpful tool to recover payment, Florida does not require that a Notice of Intent to Lien be sent prior to filing a mechanis lien. Second, the lien deadline. In Florida, the deadline to file a mechanics lien is 90 days from the last date the claimant provided labor or materials to the project. This is a strict deadline, and liens filed beyond this timeframe are very typically deemed invalid and unenforceable. However, an owner may have to file an action with the court in order to challenge a filed lien on this basis. Third, regarding the time for serving a filed Florida mechanics lien, a claimant must notify an owner that their lien was recorded within 15 days of its recording - and the failure to do so will affect the validity of the filed lien to the extent that the failure to send notice harmed the party who was not notified. In a situation where an owner was given late notice but was not actually harmed by that late notice, there's a chance that the filed lien will not be affected by late notice. Regarding licensure, Florida contractors and subcontractors who are not licensed are not able to file a valid and enforceable mechanics lien. But again - a lack of licensure won't actually prevent a lien from getting filed, and to show that a lien is invalid due to a lack of licensure will require legal action. As for how a property owner should respond to a lien filing - every situation is different, and I'm not able to advise you on what steps should be taken. But there are some general ideas to keep in mind. First, mechanics liens are powerful, and every lien filing should be taken seriously. Often, property owners will consult a local construction or real estate attorney for advice on how to proceed, as well as to evaluate the lien which was filed. After all, challenging a filed lien will very likely require legal action, and it's always a good idea to hire a lawyer where legal action is necessary. Further, keep in mind that Florida has very serious penalties for fraudulent lien filings - and leveraging potential penalties into the release of a filed lien can often go a long way toward getting a lien removed (though, recall that not all mistakes result in a fraudulent lien). But again - by hiring or at least consulting a Florida construction or real estate attorney, an owner can more confidently proceed to battle a faulty lien claim. This resource should also be helpful: A Mechanics Lien Was Filed on My Property – What Do I Do Now?. For more info on the rules surrounding Florida lien claims, this resource should help: Florida Lien & Notice FAQs.
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