i have a signed contract for $49k for a roof/windows and doors job
i placed order for custom windows and doors and paid deposits of $12500
customer wants to now cancel and says unless i drop the rice by $10k he will not do it.
Can i pl;ace a mechanics lien in the state of Florida?
The window sizes are custom to his project
In Florida, those who supply materials are generally entitled to file a mechanics lien when the materials are actually furnished and make their way into the project. When materials aren’t actually delivered or haven’t yet made their way into the job, then whether or not mechanics lien rights will be available will get dicier.
Generally, those who specially fabricate materials in Florida will have the right to lien – even if those specially fabricated materials don’t actually make their way into the job where the materials aren’t used by the act or direction of the owner and without the fault of the supplier. This is because specially fabricated materials are generally not readily usable on other jobs, so payment for those materials is crucial since they typically cannot be reused or resold.
While Florida courts have determined that a specialty fabricator will have lien rights when they’re prevented from delivering their materials, I don’t think they’ve specifically addressed the situation where a middle-man supplier has been prevented from delivering materials. But, presumably, the same principle would apply – because the materials aren’t easily reused or resold, and because the supplier is prevented from delivering those materials due to the general contractor’s actions (who’s acting on behalf of the owner to complete the project), a middle-man supplier of specially fabricated materials may, too, have the right to lien.
Options outside of a mechanics lien
Note that the mere threat of a mechanics lien might be effective to get payments moving. Sending a document like a Notice of Intent to Lien to the property owner and the customer can let them know that nonpayment is not an option and, if payments aren’t made, that a mechanics lien will be filed on the project. By sending a Notice of Intent to Lien to both the customer and the owner, it could also help put pressure on the contractor. No owner wants to hear that their property may be liened, and if nonpayment has come from the contractor’s refusal to honor their obligations, then pressure from the owner might help to move things along, too. More on that here: What is a Notice of Intent to Lien – And Should You Send One?
Before jumping straight to the threat of a lien, though, it might be helpful to discuss the debt one more time with a customer. Or, potentially sending a demand letter directly to that customer could be helpful too. Just like with a Notice of Intent to Lien, it’s a way to show customers that if they don’t pay what’s owed, they’ll face tough consequences. Often, a demand letter will fall somewhere on the spectrum between a phone call or invoice reminder and a full-on threat of lien. For more on demand letters, here’s a great resource: Demand Letters for Contractors – How To Write One That Gets You Paid.
As a last note – any time mechanics liens or Notices of Intent to Lien come into play, recall that Florida has strict rules and requirements surrounding mechanics liens. And, in order to file a lien, there are notice and deadline requirements to consider. You can read more about those here: Florida Mechanics Lien Guide and FAQs
But, if you do decide a mechanics lien is a good option for moving forward, this resource should help: How to File A Florida Mechanics Lien – Step By Step Guide.