Tenant just told me he may not have enough to complete the project
Mar 4, 2019
That's an interesting question. First, let's look at the difference between a Notice to Owner (and when it should be sent). Then, let's look at options for recovering payment in Florida. A Notice to Owner is what we like to call a "preliminary notice". These notices should generally be sent near the beginning of the project, and if a contractor or sub waits too late, they might not be able to send a valid preliminary notice at all. In Florida, the Notice to Owner must be sent by all parties who have not contracted directly with the property owner. It must be sent within 45 days of the first furnishing date. When notice is required but not sent, or when notice is sent beyond this timeframe, the right to file a valid and enforceable mechanics lien will no longer be available to a claimant. For more on Florida Notice to Owner requirements, this resource should be helpful: Florida’s Notice to Owner (NTO) Requirement. A Notice of Lien typically refers to the notice given once a mechanics lien has been filed. As stated above, in order to preserve the right to file a mechanics lien, a Notice to Owner may be necessary. Further, the deadline for filing a mechanics lien is very different from the deadline for sending preliminary notice since preliminary notice is sent at the start of the job in order to establish communication and transparency, as well as to preserve the right to lien if that becomes necessary. In Florida, the deadline to file a mechanics lien will be within 90 days of the date that labor or materials were last furnished. To learn more about Florida mechanics liens, these resources should be helpful: (1) Florida Lien & Notice FAQs; and (2) How to File a Florida Mechanice Lien. Finally, it's worth noting that there's also another (non-required) step between sending preliminary notice and filing a mechanics lien. Many claimants utilize a Notice of Intent to Lien document in order to warn or threaten that, if payment isn't made, a lien will be filed. This helps both sides - for customers and owners, it gives them a chance to make payment before a lien filing takes place. For claimants, a Notice of Intent to Lien represents an opportunity to recover payment without needing to actually filing a lien, which tends to be riskier and more expensive than a Notice of Intent to Lien itself, not to mention more harmful to relationships in the industry. Plus, a Notice of Intent to Lien can be sent regardless of whether the right to file a mechanics lien actually exists - and due to the serious nature of lien claims, many customers and owners aren't willing to call a claimant's bluff. For more on that idea, this resource should be helpful: What is a Notice of Intent to Lien? For more on how mechanics liens can compel payment themselves and where the power of a lien comes from, this article is a great resource: 17 Ways a Mechanics Lien Leads to Payment. Finally, for more information on options to recover payment outside of the mechanics lien process, this article has good information: Don't Want to File a Lien? Here are Some Other Options.