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Do I qualify to file a lien

FloridaLien DeadlinesMechanics LienPayment Disputes

I own my own consulting company and worked as owner's rep and later Project Manager for the same companies for three years. I originally worked for the owner of several commercial buildings and then was transferred to work for a related construction company that was run by an investor in the buildings and we worked only on the buildings owned by this same company. At the end of my work, they asked me to accept partial pay as they were experiencing cash flow issues. I agreed, but when I told them that I could not continue to defer my pay, they terminated me. I have been talking to them weekly for almost 90 days and have several promises to pay my back pay but only one token payment. I now think that I need to file a lien to collect my pay but do not know if I fit into one of the two exemptions for notice of intent to file lien. Since I am only one employee, can I qualify as a laborer or does my job description prevent this? I only have 3 days to file the lien.

1 reply

Dec 4, 2017
There are a couple of things to consider here. The first, and most important, is whether the work performed is the top of work that gives rise to a mechanics lien right to begin with. If not, the appropriate avenue for recovery may take a different path, such as proceeding directly to a lawsuit (perhaps made in small claims court, depending on the value of the claim).

If the work was performed in Florida, work that is protected by mechanics liens is the improvement of real property, defined as follows: "any building, structure, construction, demolition, excavation, solid-waste removal, landscaping, or any part thereof existing, built, erected, placed, made or done on land or other real property for its permanent benefit." Accordingly, work that is not construction industry work for the permanent benefit of real property may not be lien-able.

Further, since a lien is related to a particular piece of property (it encumbers a property such that the property could be foreclosed upon and sold to satisfy the debt) the amount of a lien (and the dates for calculating all applicable deadlines) apply to the individual property that was improved and that may be subject to the lien. It is unclear from your question what work was actually performed, whether there were multiple works of improvement, etc.

Additionally, a period of 3 days (if a mechanics lien is appropriate) is a very narrow window to get a lien filed appropriately. You can try - but in this case, it may be that the most prudent approach would be to consult a local attorney immediately, and potentially move forward with a claim in another manner.
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