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Should my supplier file a lien separately for the amount in materials and I file separately for the total amount?

FloridaMechanics LienRight to Lien

Should my supplier file a lien for the total amount in materials? If so should I file for the remaining balance or the full amount including materials? Also, for my supplier to file is it necessary to send the notice to owner? We are very close but still within the 45 days to do so? If yes, what is the fastest way to do so because there are only 4 days left? Thank You

1 reply

Jul 31, 2019
That's a good question, and it's rare that a contractor and their supplier are on good enough terms that, when a payment problem comes up, the two would be willing to coordinate their lien claims. Let's look at (1) whether an NTO is required and if there's still time to send it, and (2) what amounts can be claimed. Keep in mind - I'm not able to provide legal advice, so I can't advise on how exactly to coordinate lien claims. However, I'll explain the rules below, and that should be helpful for coming to your own decision.

Notice to Owner Requirements
Anyone who's hired by someone other than the property owner must send a Notice to Owner in order to preserve the right to later file a mechanics lien in Florida. So, for a supplier hired by someone other than the owner, if the Notice to Owner isn't timely sent, the right to file a mechanics lien will be lost. As you mention above in your answer, the deadline for sending this notice is 45 days from the first date when the sender has furnished labor or materials to the project.

There are some additional things to consider when sending notice as that deadline creeps up. For one - if the notice is mailed within the first 40 days for providing labor or materials, then the notice is considered to be sent timely. As in - even if the notice doesn't actually make it to the owner within the 45 days, as long as it was mailed (as required) within the first 40, the notice isn't considered late. Granted, the notice must still make it to the owner. Further, keep in mind that the notice may be hand delivered - and that's often the fastest way to make sure notice is sent on time. Granted, when notice is given by hand, it's important to have proof that the notice was actually given.

You can find more information on Florida's Notice to Owner requirements here: About Florida's Notice to Owner (NTO)

Amount of the lien
When owed but unpaid for work on the project, Florida claimants can file a lien for the full amount that they're unpaid. However, the total amount of liens allowable against the property will be capped at the price of the project. That means if a contractor and supplier both file liens for what they're owed, and if those amounts add up to be greater than the total contract price, then the amount of the liens will be limited to the amount of the total contract price.

Obviously, that can create some complications for a contractor and their subs/suppliers. As mentioned above, it's not particularly common for a contractor and their sub/supplier to coordinate their lien claims. But, keep in mind that even if a contractor files a lien which also encompasses some of what will be paid to the sub/supplier, that contractor will still be required to pass payment through to the supplier. So, ultimately, it might not matter all that much which person is liening what amount as long as everyone will be paid what they're owed.

I hope this information was helpful! If you have any other questions about Florida mechanics liens, feel free to post another question here, or you can get more information here: Florida Mechanics Lien Guide and FAQs.
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