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if a painter files a mechanics lien , what can I do

FloridaConstruction ContractMechanics LienPayment DisputesRight to Lien

Friend recommended a painter to us. We never received any written quote or contract. He did the painting for $20/hr. Our friend who is NOT a contractor was the middle person between us and this painter. He did such a poor job of painting that I now have to get another painter in to repaint the entire unit. He got paint on ceilings that did not require painting, but now clearly need to be repainted. All Door moldings that should have been taped, were not, and now all the moldings need to be painted etc. etc. We paid for all supplies and paint. We are refusing to pay for the labor as we now have to have the whole place painted again. Work started on July 2nd, date of completion was July 18, with some days between that he didn't work. I am refusing to pay him based on the fact that his work has to be completely re-done. We have no written contract or agreement, or even a written estimate of how much the job would cost. He is now threatening to sue us, put a lien on our condo etc. etc. etc. He never filed a "Notice to Owner". Can he still file for a mechanics lien? If so, what are my options? I have photos of his work, as well as numerous estimates from painting companies for fixing everything he did. It will now cost me more than it should have because all the ceilings now need to be painted, whereas they did not before.

1 reply

Jul 31, 2018
I'm sorry you've found yourself in this situation, it sound exceptionally frustrating.

There are a lot of issues here, let's jump in and see what information may be helpful.

Several of the questions posed relate to the ability of the painter to file a mechanics lien against your property. You note that there was no written agreement with the painter, the work was insufficient, and the painter did not provide a notice to owner.

Florida does not require that a written contract in order to later file a mechanics lien, and laborers are not required to provide a notice to owner. Finally, substandard work generally does not act as a bar to filing a lien, although it may come into play in determining the value of the work performed and the appropriate amount (if any) of the lien claim itself.

Note that, as a practical matter, whether a party is entitled to a valid and enforceable mechanics lien does not necessarily have too much to do with whether that party can get a mechanics lien filed (that could result in headaches or unnecessary issues for you).

Despite the above, however, the question of whether or not you will ultimately be responsible for paying him anything is a different question. When work must be completely re-done, and another party needs to be hired to mitigate the damage caused by the party initially doing the work, there is generally a claim against the first party.

Additionally, Florida law provides a mechanism for "any interested party" to file a complaint such that "the clerk shall issue a summons to the lienor to show cause within 20 days why his or her lien should not be enforced by action or vacated and canceled of record. Upon failure of the lienor to show cause why his or her lien should not be enforced or the lienor’s failure to commence such action before the return date of the summons the court shall forthwith order cancellation of the lien." So in the event a lien is filed, there is a relatively quick procedure that can be used to force its release.

While liens can be filed in all kinds of situations (both appropriately and inappropriately) just because they are filed doesn't mean they can be enforced. I hope you are able to get out of this mess without too much consternation.
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