Florida NTO
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Florida Preliminary Notice FAQs

What is a Notice to Owner (NTO)?

Florida NTO Rules
At A Glance


  • Private Jobs
  • Public Projects
  • Top Links
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...

General Contractors in Florida must provide list of all subs and suppliers within 10 days of request from the property owner.


45
DAYS
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.


45
Days
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.


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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 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.


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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.


45
DAYS
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.


45
DAYS
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.


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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.


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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 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.

Florida Notice to Owner Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about Notice to Owner (NTO) rules and requirements, with answers written by construction lawyers and payment experts in Florida.

NTOs on Private Projects

Who needs to send a Florida Notice to Owner?

Any party who does not have a direct contractual relationship with the property owner is required to serve a Notice to Owner (or NTO), with the exception of laborers. Preliminary notices are very closely integrated into the fabric of the Florida’s mechanics lien laws. Design professionals (like landscape architects, engineers, and interior designers) are not required to provide a preliminary notice to owner, because these parties only have lien rights in Florida if they have a direct contract with the owner.

While parties with a direct contract with the property owner (prime contractors / GCs) do not have to send an NTO, 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 direct contractor has 10 days to supply a list of all subcontractors and suppliers that they have hired.

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.

 

What's the deadline to send a Florida Notice to Owner?

Generally, Florida’s deadline to send an NTO 45 days from first furnishing. Construction parties without a direct contract must send preliminary Notice to Owner within 45 days of first furnishing labor or materials to the project. Specialty material fabricators have 45 days from when they began work on making the materials.

However, for participants that perform work at (or toward) the end of the project, Florida law specifically mandates that they provide notice before the owner’s final payment to the project’s prime contractor. This is only the deadline marking the latest the notice can be provided.

Use this deadline calculator to quickly calculate your NTO and lien filing deadlines.

Florida statute makes it clear that a party can provide an NTO as early as they like – you cannot send a Notice to Owner too early. Providing a notice late, however, causes the sender to lose their lien rights entirely.

What information is required on a Florida Notice to Owner form?

Florida requires a lot of information and text to be included in a Notice to Owner form. However, certain information (like the identity of a subcontractor) is required only if the noticing party has knowledge of it. 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.

Download a free Notice to Owner (NTO) form that meets the requirements of Florida’s mechanics lien statutes.

Who do I need to send a Florida NTO to?

While it’s obvious that a notice called a “notice to owner” should be sent to the property owner, other parties must also 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. In some cases, you may need to send more than one NTO.

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. When this is done, they are allowed to appoint an “Owner Designee,” 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 construction parties need to navigate when sending notice to the Owner Designee.

Interestingly, failing to serve an NTO on the owner designee does not necessarily kill your lien rights. 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.”

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: What can happen to the notice requirements if the property is transferred to another owner.

 

 

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.

Learn more about mailing requirements for notices, and when they are considered served.

What if I send the Florida Notice to Owner Late?

Failing to serve an NTO within the deadline causes a claimant to lose the right to file a mechanics lien in Florida.

 

Can I send an amended NTO?

Sending an updated Notice to Owner carries significant risk. If the original 45-day deadline to send notice has passed, then sending an amended NTO could cause you to lose your lien rights. However, if you’re still within the time frame to send the NTO, there is likely little risk to sending an amended preliminary notice.

The good news is that Florida rewards “substantial compliance.” According to Florida’s mechanics lien statute § 713.06(2)(f), if a claimant “has substantially complied with the provisions […] errors or omissions do not prevent the enforcement of a claim against a person who has not been adversely affected by such omission or error.”

This essentially means that if an error in an NTO does not adversely affect the parties who were supposed to receive the Notice to Owner, amended notice is not necessary.

See the answer to this related question: Do I need to update the NTO if the property owners record a new Notice of Commencement?

Is the Florida NTO considered served 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.

Learn more about mailing requirements for notices, and when they are considered served.

NTOs on Public Projects

Do I need to send a Florida NTO on a public project?

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 in Florida.

Read the guide to Florida’s Notice to Owner, and how to send one.

When do I need to send a Notice to Owner on a public project in Florida?

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.

For more, see When to send a Florida NTO.

 

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.

See Is it too late to send a Notice to Owner?

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.

Learn more about mailing options for construction notices

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.

See Who needs to receive an NTO in Florida?

Need More Help with Florida Notices to Owner?

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Recent Questions & Answers
About Florida Notice to Owner

Do I have to sign a final release to get paid, even though no NTO was filed by us?

Hi, customer is holding our check because they need a final release, but we haven't filed an NTO.

If a NTO has been duplicated (sent again at a later date), Will that affect the validity of the NTOO

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What can we do?

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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

The Florida Notice to Owner (NTO) is a type of preliminary notice that the state of Florida requires certain contractors and suppliers to send in...

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