Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>if Work was done to a condominium common area, and a lien has to be started, who would we be serving notice on? Is it all of the owners, the board or the manager of the condo?

if Work was done to a condominium common area, and a lien has to be started, who would we be serving notice on? Is it all of the owners, the board or the manager of the condo?

FloridaMechanics Lien

We performed renovations on a hi rise condo building’s common areas. Basically flooring wall and ceiling finishes and lighting in the hallways. The building is from the early 80s and they elected to refinish the old surfaces instead of replacing with new (unit doors, laundry room cabinets etc.) The condo manager, who is a young lady in her twenties, while trying to justify her position, has become extremely unreasonable with every little speck and dot on the walls, doors etc. and is holding back $16,000.00. We have been more than accommodating, sending the painter back 4 times as well as other treades tho address touch ups. Upon a recent visit to the sight, approximately 5 rolls of blue tape cut to 1inch pieces has been placed on the walls and other surfaces where she thinks we should fix. The building is old, and if they wanted new , they should have replaced the doors, for example instead of resurfacing.

2 replies

May 20, 2019
That's a good question, and I'm sorry to hear you've had trouble with this property manager. Filing a mechanics lien against a condominium association can be tricky - but Florida makes things (relatively) easy when work has been done on common elements. For one, when an association approves work for common elements of a condominium building, that authorization implies that all of the property owners have authorized the work. Because common elements are typically shared jointly by all of the unit owners, this makes it easier to determine whether lien rights will be available in the first place.

As hinted at above, when a mechanics lien is filed in Florida, notice must be sent to the property owner(s) within 15 days of its recording - and a failure to send that notice could affect the lien's validity. So whether notice must go to every unit holder is a serious implication. But, under Fla. Stat. § 713.01(23), a condominium association will be considered an "owner" when the project is improving, altering, or repairing common elements or property actually owned by the association. So, notice of a lien filing would need to be made to the condominium association rather than to each individual unit owner. Still - it's worth considering sending notice to unit holders, too. After all, they do have an ownership interest in the common areas, and by informing them of a lien claim, it could put extra pressure on a property manager to resolve the dispute.

Finally, it's also worth considering that jumping straight to a mechanics lien might not always be the best first step. Talking out the issue with an owner and explaining the disconnect could help to alleviate the issue. If that doesn't work, or if prior attempts to level with an owner haven't been fruitful, sending a warning or threat of lien might be helpful. By sending a document like a Notice of Intent to Lien, a contractor can let their customer know that they're serious about payment, and that they won't be toyed with. Because a mechanics lien is such a drastic remedy, often, the warning or threat of lien will help bring disputes to a resolution. Plus, much like with the notice of a lien filing, by sending a Notice of Intent to Lien to all condominium owners, a contractor can put extra pressure on their customer to make sure the issue is resolved and payment is made.

For more information about Florida's lien and notice rules, this resource will be valuable: Florida Lien & Notice Overview.
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May 20, 2019
Matt really hit the nail on the head with his response. I'll add a little bit more information that may be worth noting if a lien is actually filed.

If you do end up filing a lien, and if you end up needing to foreclose - which is an unlikely scenario to be sure - there are some additional things that it may be beneficial to consider.

Florida allows for a mechanics lien to be filed for work done on common elements of a condominium, when authorized by the condominium association. But, the lien authorized is against each parcel of the condominium rather than against the common elements themselves.

Fla. Stat. 718.121(2), specifically states that: "Labor performed on or materials furnished to the common elements are not the basis for a lien on the common elements, but if authorized by the association, the labor or materials are deemed to be performed or furnished with the express consent of each unit owner and may be the basis for the filing of a lien against all condominium parcels in the proportions for which the owners are liable for common expenses.” (Emphasis added.)

This means that any lien filed is actually a lien against each and very parcel of the association in proportion to the percentage each owner pays for common expenses. The good news, however, is that if a foreclosure lawsuit is required, the proper form is to file against the condo association as a representative of the class of all the individual owners.
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