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...
Must provide list of all subs and suppliers within 10 days of request from the property owner.
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.
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.
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 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 Usually 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.
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.
Most Subs Must Send Notice
When hired by someone other than the GC, subcontractors must send notice. 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
Suppliers hired by the owner GC don't have to send notice. 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
When required, preliminary notice is mandatory 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 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.
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 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.