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Florida Preliminary Notice FAQs

About Florida's Notice to Owner (NTO)

Florida NTO Rules
At A Glance


  • Private Jobs
  • Public Projects
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Notice to Owner (NTO) Is Required

If you don’t deliver a preliminary notice (known in Florida as a Notice to Owner) soon after first providing labor or materials, you will likely lose your mechanics lien rights.


10
DAYS
GC's Are Not Required, But...

Must provide list of all subs and suppliers within 10 days of request from the property owner.


45
DAYS
Subcontractors Must Send Notice

Notice to Owner required within earlier date of: (a) 45 days after first providing labor or materials; (b) 45 days when work begins on making specialty materials; (c) Before owner's final payment to prime contractor under its contract. Sub-Subs must serve notice before earlier date of: (a) 45 days after first commencing work or furnishing materials or (b) before final payment to sub hiring it.


45
Days
Suppliers Must Send Notice, Unless...

If contracting with owner, same notice requirements as Prime. If contracting with prime contractor, same notice requirements as Subcontractor. If contracting with Subcontractor, same notice requirements as Sub-Subcontractor.


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You Cannot Send Notices Late

In Florida, failure to provide the notice to owner by the deadline set forth by statute is fatal to a subsequent lien claim.


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Deliver to Owner (Owner Designee) and All Parties Up-the-Chain

In Florida, the preliminary notice to worn must be delivered to all parties up-the-chain from the party providing notice. This means the owner, and everybody in between the owner and the party providing notice. Additionally, Florida allows a property owner to designate a specific party to receive notice in addition to themselves.

NTO is Required

Most parties, other than GCs who don't have any right to recover against their own bond, must provide a preliminary notice within the statutory time frame in order to retain the right to make a valid claim against the contractor's payment bond.


X
No Notice Required from GCs

On public jobs, any claims for non-payment are made against the general contractor's bond. Since GCs will not make a claim against their own bond for non-payment, they do not have bond claim rights, and have no preliminary notice requirement.


45
DAYS
Subs Must Send Notice

Preliminary notice is required within earlier date of: (a) 45 days after first providing labor or materials; (b) 45 days when work begins on making specialty materials; (c) Before owner's final payment to prime contractor under its contract. Sub-Subs must serve notice before earlier date of: (a) 45 days after first commencing work or furnishing materials or (b) before final payment to sub hiring it.


45
DAYS
Suppliers Must Send Notice

If contracting with prime contractor, same notice requirements as Subcontractor. If contracting with Subcontractor, same notice requirements as Sub-Subcontractor.


icon-can't waive lien rights
You Cannot Send Notices Late

When required, preliminary notice is mandatory and failure to send the notice timely may be fatal to the ability to make a bond claim.


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Send Notice to GC

Florida only specifically requires that preliminary notices on public projects be sent to the GC; however, it's best practice to send to the surety (if known) and public entity, as well.

Florida has very specific and strict rules regarding preliminary notices. Most parties on a Florida construction project will lose the ability to file a valid and enforceable mechanics lien if they don’t deliver a preliminary notice (known in Florida as a Notice to Owner, or NTO) within the appropriate time after beginning work or furnishing materials to a project. Retaining lien rights is just one benefit to providing preliminary notice, however. Preliminary notices were designed to provide useful information to the property owner, and make otherwise hidden project participants visible. This means that it is easier to control and distribute payment on the project, and get the known participants paid faster.

In Florida, all parties who did not contract directly with the property owner must serve a Notice to Owner (NTO) on the property owner within 45 days of furnishing labor and/or materials to the construction project, except for three exceptions: (1) individual wage-laborers (employees of a project participant) are not required to send an NTO; (2) architects, engineers, or other design professionals are not required to send an NTO; and (3) participants providing “subdivision improvements” (improvements for the purpose of making a site suitable for construction) are not required to send a preliminary NTO.

While it’s obvious that a notice called a “notice to owner” should be sent to the property owner, other parties are also required to receive the document. Florida requires that the notice be sent to the other parties “up-the-payment-chain” from the party giving the notice. This means that first-tier subs should send the notice to the GC as well as the owner, and sub-subs should send the notice to the owner, the GC, and the sub that hired them. Additionally, Florida allows a property owner to designate some specific party to receive notice in addition to themselves. This party, known as the “owner designee” must be identified on the notice of commencement.

While it is a supposed requirement to send the NTO to the owner designee, if one was listed on the notice of commencement, Florida Code § 713.06(2)(b) notes that: “the failure by the lienor to serve such copy, [on the owner designee] however, does not invalidate an otherwise valid lien.”

Generally, the preliminary notice to owner must be provided within 45 days of first furnishing labor or materials to the project (or 45 days from when work began on making specially fabricated materials, if applicable). However, for participants that perform work at (or toward) the end of the project, it is specifically mandated that the notice be provided “before the date of the owner’s disbursement of the final payment” after giving a final payment affidavit. This is only the deadline marking the latest the notice can be provided, however. Florida statute makes it clear that a notice to owner cannot be provided too early. If it’s provided late, however, it is fatal to any subsequent lien claim.

Florida requires a lot of information and text to be included in a notice to owner. However certain information (like the identity of a subcontractor) is required only if the noticing party has knowledge of it, and all parties providing notice are specifically allowed to rely on public information contained in the notice of commencement (or, if one was not filed, in the building permit) when sending their notice. However, there is certain information that absolutely must appear on the notice document, and there are several paragraphs of warning text set out by statute to make sure the property owner is aware of liens and ways to protect against them.

While direct contractors (prime contractors / GCs) do not have notice to worn requirements, they do have some potential requirements related to providing notice. Property owners may request a list of subcontractors and suppliers that are working on the project. If that happens, the contractor must supply within 10 days from the request a list of all subcontractors and suppliers that they have hired.

 

Florida Notice to Owner Frequently Asked Questions

If you're sending or receiving preliminary notices (i.e. Notices to Owner) in Florida, it's important to get all the details right and have an understanding about the document and its purposes. Since preliminary notices to owner are subject to a lot of complex rules and requirements, getting a good grasp on the intricacies and requirements surrounding them can be difficult. These are some frequently asked questions about the process on private jobs.

Prelim FAQs on Private Projects

Do I need to send a Florida Notice to Owner?

It depends, but generally the answer will be yes.  Preliminary notices (called “Notices to Owner” in Florida) are very closely integrated into the fabric of the state’s mechanics lien laws. Most participants will need to send a notice, and if a notice is required pursuant to the statutes, the requirement is very firm. We talked about this in the article “Florida Preliminary Notice – Ain’t No Sunshine If Its Not Sent.”  To read the reverse of this (i.e. the exceptions to the state’s NTO requirements), read this article: Exceptions to Florida’s  NTO Requirements.

Any party (except wage laborers) who does not have a direct contractual relationship with the property owner is required to serve a Notice to Owner within the earlier of 1) 45 days from first furnishing services or materials, or 2) 45 days from when work begins on making specialty materials, but in any event it must be 3) before owner’s final payment to prime contractor. If the contractor posted a payment bond, and the property owner recorded the bond with his Notice of Commencement, all lien claimants who did not contract directly with the owner must serve the contractor a Notice to Contractor within 45 days of the date on which they first supplied labor or materials. Laborers and design professionals are not required to provide the preliminary notice to owner. Read more about the requirements and potential pitfalls of Florida’s Notice to Owner, here.  Also, be careful to avoid these Florida NTO Mistakes That Can Kill Your  Lien Rights.

Some companies worry that sending preliminary notice may scare their customers. However, as shown in this article, that is not the case:  Florida Notice to Owner – Will Sending It Upset Your Customer?

When do I need to send a Florida Notice to Owner?

Parties required to send the notice to owner must send it within the earlier of 45 days from first furnishing services or materials, or 45 days from when work begins on making specialty materials, but in any case – notice must be sent before the owner’s final payment to the project’s prime contractor.

One common problem for those who must send Notices to Owner is not knowing exactly who to send it to.  Sure, you may know to send the NTO to the property owner and the general contractor, but what can you do if you don’t know who the property owner or general contractor actually is?  While this is a frustrating question mark in many states’ lien schemes, Florida actually makes it quite clear that notice senders can rely on publicly available information.

What if I send the Florida Notice to Owner Late?

Failure to provide the notice to owner within the statutorily mandated time frame is fatal to the lien claim in Florida.

How Should the Florida Notice to Owner be Sent?

The notice to owner should be sent by registered, Global Express Guaranteed, or certified mail, with postage prepaid.

Do I have to send the Florida Notice to Owner to Someone Other than the Owner?

The notice to owner must be served on the owner, and all other parties “up the chain” from the party providing the notice.

Florida’s mechanics lien rules are unique in that property owners or agents of the owner are required to file a “Notice of Commencement” at the start of the project, and when this is done, they are allowed to appoint an “Owner Designee.”  This “Owner Designee” is a person or organization who will receive Notice to Owner filings on behalf of the owner. Generally speaking, when an Owner Designee is designated in a Notice of Commencement, the furnishing party can provide notice to that party instead of the actual owner. There are many complexities presented, however, in the case the Owner Designee changes, is not designated in the Notice of Commencement, or if a Notice of Commencement cannot be located.    We wrote about the Owner Designee and how it impacts a party’s notice requirements in “Florida Mechanics Lien Law: Preliminary Notice and the Owner Designee.

Another complexity may exist if the ownership of a property transfers or changes during the course of a construction project. This was addressed in a recent Florida case, that we wrote about here: What can happen to the notice requirements if the property is transferred to another owner.

Is the Florida Notice to Owner Considered Delivered When Sent or When Received?

The notice to owner is considered delivered at the time of mailing only if the notice is sent within 40 days of first furnishing labor or materials, otherwise, the notice is considered served on the date of receipt.

Prelim FAQs on Public Projects

Do I Need to Send a Florida Notice to Owner?

It depends. Florida requires all parties who do not have a direct contract with the general contractor (excluding laborers) to provide preliminary notice to preserve the right to make a bond claim.

When do I Need to Send a Florida Notice to Owner?

If preliminary notice is required, it must be sent either before claimant’s first furnishing of labor and/or materials to the project, or within 45 days from the first date of claimant’s furnishing of labor and/or materials to the project. If the notice is sent by registered or certified mail within 40 days of claimant’s first furnishing labor and/or materials, the notice is considered effective as of the date of mailing as long as sending information is retained.

Note that, in any event, notice must be provided prior to the owner’s final payment to the GC.

What if I Send the Florida Notice to Owner Late?

When required, preliminary notice is mandatory and failure to send the notice timely may be fatal to the ability to make a bond claim.

How Should the Florida Notice to Owner be Sent?

Preliminary notice on public projects may be sent by the same methods allowed for sending preliminary notice on a private project. This means that sending the notice via registered or certified mail is permissible, as well as personal service, or other method of actual delivery with evidence of delivery.

To Whom Must the Florida Notice to Owner be Given?

To preserve the right to make a claim against the bond on a public project in Florida, preliminary notice, when required, must be delivered to the general contractor of the project.

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Florida Notice to Owner Form Templates

The Florida Notice to Owner form is set forth by statute. This doesn’t mean that the form absolutely must look like the form set out by Florida statute, as long as it contains all of the required information and specifically required statutory language, but it certainly makes the form more familiar to other participants on Florida construction projects. The forms provided here for free by Levelset are compliant with the Florida rules, follow the statutory guidelines for Florida notices, and include all required statutory language. You can download them for free, or use our system to send or request them easily.

Florida Notice to Owner Form - free from

Florida Notice to Owner Form

This Florida Notice to Owner (NTO) form is a letter that the state of Florida requires certain contractors and suppliers to send in order to...

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