Florida has enabled Rhino Custom homes LLC to defraud over 50 people and recently reinstated their license enabling them
So I’ve paid the contractor. They failed to pay the Bills due.
2 liens are on my property.
I do not think I was sent nto.
The contractor was on state license suspension.
What should I do?
Florida property owners have a few different tools available to battle mechanics liens filed against their property. This is especially true where the liens are clearly improper (like due to no Notice to Owner being sent). Note, though, that mechanics liens are a serious threat to the property title – so, when a lien is filed, it’s important to take that claim seriously.
With that in mind, let’s look at a few options for fighting Florida lien claims. And, before we get going, this resource may be valuable: A Mechanics Lien Was Filed on My Property – What Do I Do Now?
Defenses to a Florida mechanics lien claim
There are a few different approaches that might help with fighting off a Florida lien claim. Let’s break them down topic by topic.
Convincing a claimant to release their own lien
For one, if there are obvious flaws with a lien claim, then it might be possible to convince the lien claimant to release their lien, themselves, rather than having to incur the legal costs that they’ll incur when you challenge the lien. A Florida subcontractor’s mechanics lien won’t be valid if they haven’t sent an NTO. Plus, a “proper payment” defense under Fla. Stat. §713.06 might be on the table too, as discussed in this article: Florida Proper Payment Defense Can Leave Subs Defenseless.
Shortening the timeframe to enforce the lien
An owner can drastically shorten the timeframe for a claimant to enforce their Florida mechanics lien, forcing the claimant to either quickly proceed with their claim or forfeit that claim. If an owner files a Notice of Contest of Lien document, they can shorten the deadline for bringing suit on the claim to a mere 60 days (rather than the typical 1 year). Or, if a summons and complaint to show cause is filed, that will shorten the period for action to a mere 20 days.
Forcing a claimant to make a move can be risky, though. It might be possible to avoid a full-on legal dispute by negotiating and talking settlement. But, when a claimant’s back is against the wall, it’s possible that they’ll proceed with their claim via lawsuit.
Bonding off a lien claim
An owner is entitled to bond off mechanics liens filed against their property. Of course, bonding off a lien claim won’t make it disappear. Rather, it will discharge the claim from the property title and force the claimant to proceed with a suit against the bond. Securing a mechanics lien bond can be costly, though.
You can learn more about bonding off a lien here: Primer on Mechanics Lien Bonds and Bonding Off a Mechanics Lien.
Challenging the lien
Naturally, if an owner thinks that a lien on their property is improper, then that owner can challenge the validity of that lien claim. This will generally be done via legal action, which means an attorney should be consulted. They’ll be able to assess the validity of the claims and decide on how best to attack the situation.
Holding a contractor accountable for failing to pay their subcontractors
Of course, with all of the above being said, it’s still in the owner’s interest to hold their contractor accountable, too. If an owner suffers damage due to their contractor’s failure to make proper payments, the owner will generally have causes of action available against that contractor. What’s more, pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 713.35, if a contractor has lied about paying their subs and suppliers in order to obtain payment, that contractor may well face third-degree felony charges.
Further yet, additional complaints to the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation or even with the state’s attorney general office could help hold them accountable. To a less-official extent, leaving (accurate) business complaints on sites like the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, Google, and Facebook could be helpful too. At the very least, it might help someone else from suffering the same fate.
When facing lien claims and serious payment disputes, consulting an attorney will help
Finally, keep in mind that mechanics liens are serious business and can have a drastic effect on property owners. So, for the most clarity on how to proceed, it’d be wise to consult with a local Florida construction attorney, such as one of these Florida Construction Payment Experts. They’ll be able to review your situation and any relevant project documentation then advise on how best to move forward.