What do I do with a lien I was never notified of

3 weeks ago

Recently I uncovered a lien on my property in Florida through LifeLock. It was filed in April 2019 and I was not aware of it. No foreclosure action has been filed to date and I guess I can wait it out but not sure what happens if a foreclosure action commences. Will I have a chance to contest the amount ($7,500) at some point or even negotiate?
The amount in question was held because the contractor refused to correct his faulty work despite repeated attempts

Senior Legal Associate Levelset
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It’s always unnerving to discover a mechanics lien has been filed on your property well after the fact. Before diving into some details, here’s an article that should be helpful: A Mechanics Lien Was Filed on My Property – What Do I Do Now?

Further, when a lien claim has been filed, it may be wise to consult a local construction attorney for advice on how to respond. Still, let’s look at a few ideas that seem relevant here.

Can a Florida mechanics lien claimant file their lien without giving notice to the owner?

No. In order for a claimant’s mechanics lien to be valid and enforceable, that claimant must give notice to the property owner. However, failure to give notice to the owner will render a lien claim voidable to the extent the failure prejudices the owner. So, a failure to notify the owner might not automatically invalidate a lien claim in its entirety.

How long does it take to wait out a Florida mechanics lien claim?

Florida mechanics liens must be enforced within 1 year from the date when the lien was filed. So, if an owner wants to wait out the claim, that will generally mean they’d have to wait a year from the lien filing before they could be confident that a lien enforcement suit wouldn’t be filed.

This timeframe can be shortened, though, if an owner takes the lien claimant to task. An owner can file a Notice of Contest of Lien in order to shorten the lien enforcement deadline to 60 days after that contest filing. That document gets filed with the county recorder’s office much like a mechanics lien, and notice of the filing must also be sent to the lien claimant.

An owner can shorten the timeframe even further by filing and serving a summons and complaint to show cause why the lien shouldn’t be tossed aside – but this requires legal action. If done, though, this shortens the time for a claimant to take action to a mere 20 days.

If a lien enforcement suit is commenced, an owner can contest the lien or try and settle the claim

Like with any legal action, an owner could try and settle lien claims against their property. And, most lien claims are resolved before a lien enforcement suit becomes necessary. Further, if a suit is filed, an owner will be able to contest the validity of the payment claim, the amounts owed, and other issues with the lien. If there’s a dispute over the workmanship on the project, that will generally factor into the determination.

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