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.
GC's Are Not Required, But...
General Contractors in Florida must provide list of all subs and suppliers within 10 days of request from the property owner.
Subcontractors Must Send Notice
Florida subcontractors must send a Notice to Owner by the 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 by the earlier date of: (a) 45 days after first commencing work or furnishing materials or (b) before final payment to their hiring party.
Suppliers Must Send Notice, Unless...
Suppliers in Florida who contract with owner have the same notice requirements as the prime contractor. If a supplier contracts with the prime contractor, they have the same notice requirements as a subcontractor. If contracting with subcontractor, they have the same notice requirements as sub-subcontractor.
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.
Deliver to Owner (Owner Designee) and All Parties Up-the-Chain
In Florida, the preliminary notice to owner 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 Usually Required
Most parties on Florida construction projects, 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.
No Notice Required from GCs
On public jobs in Florida, any claims for non-payment are made against the general contractor's payment 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.
Most Subs Must Send Notice
When hired by someone other than the GC, Florida subcontractors must send a Notice to Owner to protect their right to make a bond claim. Preliminary notice is required within earliest date of: (a) 45 days after first providing labor or materials; (b) 45 days when work begins on making specialty materials; (c) Before customer receives final payment on their contract.
Most Suppliers Must Send Notice
Florida suppliers hired by the owner GC don't have to send notice on public jobs. When hired by someone other than the owner or GC, preliminary notice will be required. The same timeframes as subcontractors will apply.
You Cannot Send Notices Late
For required parties, preliminary notice is mandatory in Florida, and failure to send the notice timely may be fatal to the ability to make a bond claim.
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 contractors and suppliers must generally send a preliminary notice within the first 45 days on a construction project. In Florida, preliminary notice is called a Notice to Owner, or NTO. A preliminary notice is a document used on construction projects in many states to share information about your role on the job, preserve your lien rights, and get paid faster.
Florida Notice to Owner protects payment rights
Florida’s statutes create very specific and strict rules regarding preliminary notices.
On Florida private projects, all parties who did not contract directly with the property owner must serve a Notice to Owner (NTO) on the property owner(s) before the deadline.
However, some parties are exempt from the NTO requirement, meaning they are not required to send one:
- Individual wage-laborers (employees of a project participant)
- Architects, engineers, interior designers, landscape architects, or other design professionals
- Participants providing “subdivision improvements” (improvements for the purpose of making a site suitable for construction)
Your right to file a mechanics lien
Most parties on a private construction project in Florida will lose the ability to file a valid and enforceable mechanics lien in Florida if they don’t deliver a Notice to Owner within the appropriate time after beginning work or furnishing materials to a project.
Your right to make a payment bond claim
Many parties on a public project (e.g. a state or municipal construction job) also need to send an NTO if they want to protect their right to make a bond claim in Florida. However, this is only a requirement of parties who do not have a contract with the property owner OR the general contractor.
Send preliminary notice on every Florida project
Retaining the right to a filing a Florida mechanics lien or bond claim is just one advantage to providing preliminary notice. Because sending preliminary notice provides so many benefits, contractors and suppliers ought to send these notices on every job – whether or not it is required.
Sending a preliminary notice is a critical step that secures payment for contractors and suppliers in Florida — and helps them get paid faster. But the benefits aren’t just enjoyed by sub-tier parties on a project. Sending a Notice to Owner helps everyone on a construction project in Florida — property owners, contractors, developers, lenders, suppliers, and others — all communicate and work together smoothly.
How to find information for a Florida NTO
Finding all of the information required on a preliminary notice to owner can be tricky. Fortunately, Florida makes this part pretty simple. On all projects over $2,500, the property owner or lender must file a Florida Notice of Commencement.
This document marks the beginning of the project, and contains all of the important information required to complete a Notice to Owner form. This includes the names and addresses of the property owner, lender, prime contractor, etc. You can get a copy of the Notice of Commencement at the county assessor’s office, or find it posted in a conspicuous place on the jobsite.