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Navigating Lien Rights in Florida to Get You Paid





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Experts in this video

Amanda Alexander
Amanda Alexander

As a contractor in Florida, there are many rules, requirements, and deadlines you need to follow to file a mechanics lien. Whether you’re a GC, a subcontractor, or a material supplier, you’ll be able to walk away from this webinar with a better understanding of the statutory remedies that you can leverage to help you get paid on a construction job in Florida.

We will cover all the ins and outs of Florida Lien Rights.

Watch now to:
  • Better understand complex FL Lien laws and timelines
  • Learn how (and when!) to file a mechanics lien step-by-step


Speaker 1 (00:02):
So I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Amanda Alexander, and I’m a payment expert here at level set. I work with businesses like yours to get paid fast and without payment problems. My favorite part of the job is learning about how companies got their start, what their goals are and discussing how we can help them get there. You may notice a QR code on the bottom, right corner of your screen. If you’d like to schedule a call with me or my team to discuss lean rights management, scan the QR code to request a call. First, I’d like to give a quick overview of level set for those of you who are attending a webinar for the first time, so that you can understand who we are and what we do. So we all know that the construction industry presents all sorts of challenges. When it comes to getting paid level set is here to help you get paid.

Our lean rights management software helps you track notice and lean deadlines, verify job site information and makes managing your lean rights paperwork easy. So your team can focus on other important areas of their job. We also offer materials, financing, and have tons of resources on our website from profiles, outlining contractors, payment histories to educational guides. Now let’s jump into the presentation by the end of this webinar, you’ll be equipped with the resources and tools to get your lean rights in order. And today’s webinar will cover the following four things to know about Florida lean laws, how and when to file a lie in the step by step process. What happens after lie is filed in Florida. And then we’ll talk about some FAQs and do a Q and a session toward the end. So four things to know about Florida lie laws. Number one, a notice of commencement is required for projects in Florida.

Typically a N OOC is filed by the GC or property owner. Most states Don require this, but Florida is an exception as a sub. It’s important to be aware of when a notice of commencement is filed, this is public information, and a lot of folks use this to help fill out their notice to owners tracking down N OOC information can be quite tedious for subcontractors and suppliers. That’s why companies will partner with level set in order to have the research done for them with our scout research team, who can source the NOCs to help verify stakeholder information for your notices and the state of Florida, almost all contractors need to carry a license. Licensing falls under two categories, registered and certified registered contractors can work in specific local jurisdictions. Certified contractors can work through the state on top of civil and legal penalties, working without a license on a project where one is a requirement will also forfeit your Florida lean rights.

A notice to owner is also a required step to maintain lean rights for substance suppliers. And it’s absolutely a best practice for general. Contractors. NCOs are due within 45 days of first furnishing labor or materials on the project. Failure to send a NTO as a sub-tier within the deadline is fatal to lean rights in Florida. Although the deadline is 45 days. It’s best practice to send a NTO at the beginning of the job to promote visibility and show that you have a process in place to protect payments. We tell the story all the time to customers, but it’s really true when we talk to GCs and subcontractors, but there’s typically two stacks of invoices in a GC office. One stack is those that have sent out their notice to owners and fulfilled those compliance documents. And the other stuff stack is for folks that, you know, haven’t sent that NTO, the stack that has, is gonna get paid first they’re prioritized.

And the stack that hasn’t is either getting paid last or in some cases not at all. So level set helps by streamlining NTO processes by sending out those notices, doing the research and tracking all your deadlines so that nothing slips through the cracks. I also wanna take a moment to just caution about selectively sending notice to owners. You never know what’s gonna happen on a project. You can have the most tight knit group of general contractors that you work with, but the project always changes. And in this day and age, you have no idea. If something happens with materials on a project or labor shortages, something else that has nothing to do with you might snag payment leaving you unprotected. If you didn’t send an NTO, the lean deadline enforcement is also really important here. The deadline to file a lean is 90 days after last furnishing labor or materials on a job.

A lot of contractors I’ve spoken to that think that, you know, a lie once it’s filed, it’s valid until it’s paid. Unfortunately that’s not the case and action to enforce mechanics lane in Florida generally must be initiated within one year of the lie being filed. However, this timeframe can be shortened. If the property owner files a notice of contest of lien, the deadline to initiate an enforcement deadline is shortened to 60 days after the notice. If the claimant is served with a 20 day notice to show, cause the enforcement deadline is 20 days after the notice Florida, a mechanics lane may not be extended the deadline by which an action to enforce a mechanics lane must be initiated and they are absolute. If the deadline is missed, the lie is extinguished and becomes unenforceable level sets platform helps you track your lean and enforcement deadlines again.

So nothing slips through the cracks. It’s oftentimes when I talk to folks that have missed that deadline, it’s because you’re caught up, which most teams are at small teams, and you’re trying to keep up with the day to day and the active, ongoing projects. A lot of people are tracking deadlines on their Google calendar or an outlook calendar, and it just leaves more room for human error. So you haven’t been paid. What do you do now? If you’re unpaid on a construction project, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Slow payment is a major challenge for contractors everywhere. Nearly $1 billion per year goes unpaid to contractors and suppliers on construction jobs. Leveraging your lean rights may be just what you need to do to help with a payment problem. Liens are always a last resort to getting paid and there are several other steps contractors can take to collect on overdue invoices and avoid filing a lien.

One of those are sending out a notice of intent to lean. A NOI can be a great way to leverage relationships, to get you paid on a project without having to file a lien. Typically contractors would send an NOI to whoever above them on the payment chain, because oftentimes what happens is something like, you know, the property owner has no idea that the GC hasn’t paid the subcontractor. And so when you leverage those relationships, it helps open up chains of communication to put pressure on whoever’s dropping the ball and issue payment. The deadline to file a lien is 90 days from last furnishing labor materials on the project. So acting early allows for us to leverage other steps to avoid filing a lie. Nine times outta 10, sending a notice of intent to lean is highly successful. And typically contractors and vendors start thinking about next steps no later than like 50 to 60 days past due level.

Second can help send notices of intent to lean, to help get the attention you need to get paid. And a lot of customers that we work with will also utilize our job radar to monitor projects for late payment trends and contractors risks. This gives contractors a confidence. They need to start taking more aggressive steps because they have the insight that they need that other contractors on the job are doing so as well. And this is really, really common when you’re talking about commercial projects where your payment timeline may be, you know, supposed to be net 30 in your contract, but reality is like 45 to 60 days. And so if you start seeing other folks sitting in NOIs or mechanics lanes, and you’re still waiting for payment and it’s up to 60 days, or maybe even 70 days, you’re gonna be prompted to act a lot quicker to make sure that you’re protecting payment and start getting the attention you need to get paid.

If you, you still haven’t been paid, then most contractors would proceed to filing a lie to protect payment. While you can create your own construction lean form. Florida has very strict laws that require specific information warnings and even document formatting that you need to get, right? The information you provide must be completely accurate. Any mistakes can get your lien thrown out. So some of the information that is required on a Florida claim of lien is lie. Claimant’s name and address property owner’s name and address hiring party’s name and address description of the real property sufficient for identification, description of the services or materials you provided. First date of furnishing labor materials, the last date amount due and unpaid the total contract amount dates that the notice to owner was sent out and the signature of the claimant or their agent it’s a lot. And it’s super easy to accidentally make a mistake. This is exactly why companies typically partnered with professionals like level set to file a lien so that you have the peace of mind that it was done correctly.

A copy of the claim of mechanics lean, including the required notice of mechanics, lean wording must be served on the owner or reputed owner of the property. Service may be accomplished by sending the lien by registered mail certified mail or first class mail to the owner’s residence, place a business, or at the address shown by the permit on file. Once you’ve got all of this in order, you want to be aware recording requirements, which vary from county to county. Keep in mind that the notice of lean claim needs to be served within 15 days. Best practice is to send it out. Whenever you send out your lean form, lean claims can be recorded at any time during the construction project, but no later than 90 days after the last time that you furnish labor materials, remember that you need to file this lien in the same county in which the project takes place. If the property spans multiple counties, then you are to file the claim through both.

So what’s next. Now that you’ve completed steps one through three, when it comes to filing mechanics lean in Florida, you’re probably wondering what do I do now? So filing a lien usually will go ahead and get you paid. Our research shows that the majority of mechanics lean filings get paid quickly without any further collection or legal efforts. At this point, you have two options. You can enforce the lie, or you can go ahead and release the lie. So enforcing a mechanics lie, typically contractors will hire a Florida construction attorney to help with enforcement proceedings doing so enables you to foreclose on the property to recover the money that you’re owed. If you have to release your lien, congratulations, you got paid, but you need to release a lien in the county that you filed your mechanics lie. It’s a requirement to release a lead so that it clears the title of the property. So I know exactly what you’re thinking. Lean rights are super fun. It’s definitely a lot of information to process. And that’s exactly why companies partner with level set in order to streamline this process so that they can focus on other areas of their business.

So when companies work with level set, we send their notices through your level set dashboard. And so what this means is that typically when an invoice is created, companies will go ahead and either automate that system or plug that information in job by job. But a lot of companies will go ahead and streamline this process using their QuickBooks online or even their Procore account. So once that invoice is created, we’re telling you what to send and when to send it. And we can make automation triggers to send out those notices. If you’d like as well, we’ll track your lean deadlines and your notice deadlines all in one place. So we give you notifications, not only inside level set, but also via email, because we know that you don’t live and breathe within the level set platform. And we help create a process for payments that reflect your company and your goals.

And so you’ll work with a training and onboarding specialist in order to set up these kind of payment processes that are customized to your business. So a lot of folks will automate, sending out notice to owners, and a lot of people are paid on like net 30 terms. So you can work with TNO to send out an automatic payment reminder on day 31, maybe a secondary payment reminder on day 45, cetera. And then, you know, we will also make sure that we’re verifying and filling in any of the missing blanks on these notices to make sure that one they’re airtight, but two that we’re communicating with all appropriate stakeholders. And so our scout research team will help find that information and verify the information that you provided. We’ll also monitor the projects that you have inside level set with our job radar. And I mentioned this earlier as well, but basically what job radar does is it helps give you premium data insights on the project about payment trends on the job.

So if other contractors have sent out notices of intent to lean or a mechanics lean, then, you know, ahead of time that there potentially is an issue coming your way and you can start communicating and sending out notices ahead of time. It also gives you some insights about contractor, a risk, and this is really, really helpful because a lot of times what happens is the GC may be Robin Peter to pay Paul there’s slow payment on three other jobs that they’re on, hasn’t started happening on your project, but you’re starting to notice that, you know, your payment is 15 days late. You may start having the confidence to send out a notice of intent a lot sooner, especially on something like a commercial project to get the communication you need to get paid.

We also have a dashboard that is able to give you, um, you know, the deadlines for not only your notice to owners, but your lean deadline. And the reason why I really wanted to highlight this is because you have a lot of active projects going on at different stages of the project. And so it’s hard to keep up with the different deadlines required for each project. And oftentimes what we see are these things slipping through the cracks, just because, you know, folks are busy, it’s small teams and it’s easy to do, especially when it’s in like a Google or, uh, you know, like an outlet calendar. And so we sent you notifications inside level set and via email. And we also go ahead and send, uh, a weekly report based on your aging about best practices to collect and speed up payment on particular jobs.

And I think that’s really helpful for teams that come into level set on Monday morning, spend about 20 minutes, making sure their house is in order. And they go about the rest of their week, worrying about the other aspects of their projects and their jobs. Instead of having to chase down payment. I also wanted to include here a customer story of wall systems, Florida. And this is a very classic story. And I’ll tell you a few reasons why they were only sending NCOs on large projects. So a lot of their larger commercial work they were sending NCOs on and they had a lot of time wrapped up in sending NCOs. It was really cumbersome. It took long time to get research and it was really a contributing factor to not doing any of their medium, to small size jobs. And so a lot of bills were starting to like add up when it comes to their smaller invoices, because like I mentioned earlier, what happens is like if a G sees that you’re not sending an NTO on a project, they know that they can get away with not paying you.

Unfortunately there are predators in the community and we wanna make sure that you avoid those kind of situations. And so, you know, that was oftentimes the case of like a lot of the people I talked to, but it was definitely the case for Brenda over at wall systems. So they started partnering with level set and started sending notices on every single job and being able to streamline that process with their QuickBooks online and integration, they sent notices in a fraction of the time. It actually improved their customer relationships because it showed that they were professional. They had a standard operating procedure and the notices and payment reminders went out the same way, every single project, which contributed to them getting paid in just under 45 days. Whereas when they first came to us, it was around 90 days for payment, which is dangerous when the lean deadline is 90 days is on a job.

And so I just wanted to highlight this because it’s oftentimes the case that either research is taking too long and people are picking and choosing who they’re sending NTAs to. And that can be dangerous. Some, uh, D some’s not a word, but that can be dangerous. And a lot of times, because the GCs know that you can be at the bottom of the stack because you didn’t send an NTO, maybe they are gonna pay you and you get paid on every project, but is a leading cause to slow payment. And so that’s why a teams will work with level set to streamline this process and be a whole bunch more consistent when it comes to lean rights. So I never know that we just covered a whole bunch and I want to open up the Q and a portion. Uh, so go ahead and start putting in any of the questions that have just been brewing in your mind.

Awesome. If any of this really resonated with you and you just like to have a conversation with me about your current process or about what it would look like to partner with level set and how that would work, I’d be happy to talk to you on a one-on-one basis. So scan the QR code, schedule a call. There’s no expectations there just talking about best practices, lean rights management. And if it’s a good fit, we’d love to work with you. So while you guys are putting those questions in the Q and a, I wanna go over some frequently asked questions. When is the deadline to file a lien? The deadline to file a Florida mechanics lane is no later than 90 days from last furnishing labor materials on the job or termination to the original prime contract, who can file a lie in Florida, Florida construction law gives mechanics lean rights to direct contractors, subcontractors, material, suppliers, equipment, lessers, and laborers.

When they perform work on the permanent benefit of the land or real property. Also, this includes architects, engineers, surveyors, and other design professionals who are entitled to a mechanics lane for their services that are for the improvement of the real property, regardless of whether the property is actually ever improved and material suppliers have great protection in Florida, but protection is limited to those supply materials to second tier subs in higher. So in other words, suppliers to suppliers don’t have lean rights. And how do I file a lien in Florida, a Florida mechanics lean must be in the proper format and filed in the county recorder’s office and the county where the property is located within the required timeframe to record lane in Florida, you’ll need to bring a copy of the completed claim of lean form to the county recorder’s office and pay the filing fee or work with a service like level set to file it for you. I wanna take this time to go through some of the questions that may have come into chat. So please feel free to ask more questions and fire away.

Speaker 2 (21:07):
Hey, what are the, the questions that we got was, um, who is, I know that Florida’s a little different, so who is able to file a mechanics lie.

Speaker 1 (21:18):
So just like we talked about a second ago, um, you know, anyone that’s doing substantial improvements, uh, on the property. So a prime contractor or general contractor, subcontractor supplier, and also design professionals like engineers, architects, surveyors, uh, also have lean rights. Laborers also have lie rights and suppliers have lean rights on the project too. That’s a great question though. Any other questions?

Speaker 2 (21:55):
Yeah, we had someone else, um, chat in and say we filed a lien, but the homeowner has made some payments. They also have discovered 15 K in billing discrepancies. And after reviewing, they seem to be correct. I’m worried the owner may now come for me. Do I amend the lien with the correct amount?

Speaker 1 (22:15):
That’s a really good question. So that’s a question that I would definitely ask in our expert center, the reason being number one, I’m not a construction attorney, so I don’t wanna give any kind of legal advice, but it’s something I’ve heard, uh, before. And I think that you’re on the right path of your question. Um, level set also offers something called our expert center, which is a network of attorneys that will answer best practices and give some legal advice for free for instances just like that. And so that’s what I would do before. Um, going ahead with any kind of action to make sure that you’re taking the right step and protecting your revenue and also yourself.

Speaker 2 (22:59):
Awesome. Thanks. And one other question that we have that came in is, are lean effective on smaller residential jobs.

Speaker 1 (23:07):
Absolutely. Uh, so lean are effective on every project, but you know, one of the things and unless it’s of course like a, a public job, right, that would be called a bond claim if we’re working on public projects, but, um, on small jobs or on large commercial jobs, whether it’s private or commercial, where we’re talking about residential, uh, it’s really, really effective. And the reason being is because like, you know, once the lie is on, uh, like stay a house, then you know, the title cannot be transferred. They can’t refinance. If they’re trying to use it as collateral, there’s all these issues that can be, uh, accrued of that. And so most of the time when Eileen is filed, it really, and truly will, you know, be paid pretty promptly, but even more so that’s why a notice of intent to lean is so, so effective because one filing a lie, like I read off that long list to you guys is extremely tedious and also it’s costly. So, you know, a notice of intent, lean often calls the bluff of whoever’s not making payment, that you’re serious and they wanna avoid having to deal with the lean. So they’ll typically make payment

Speaker 2 (24:18):
Amazing and kind going off of that. Is there a minimum amount that you are allowed to file a lean for

Speaker 1 (24:26):
And not to my knowledge? Uh, so a lot of times what I see is that most folks were filing a lien, uh, on anything that they, you know, want to make sure that they’re recovering. I also hear folks talking about going to small claims court, but the issue there with small claims court is, you know, one, you have to get the judgment rendered and two, uh, there’s not really an enforcement mechanism to making them pay after judgment goes in your favor. Um, so typically filing a lien is, uh, the best course of action. Um, and really the amount is upon the contractor. I’ve seen liens for as low as like $500. And I’ve seen liens for hundreds of thousands of dollars. So it depends on what’s small to you. And the one thing I’ve learned in construction someone’s small job can be someone’s big job. So that’s really, um, a big variable.

Speaker 2 (25:16):
That’s a great point. Um, and we have one more question come in and thank you in advance. And also thanks for answering some great questions so far. Um, yeah, but Deborah asked if working with a GC does a sub need to file ANOC.

Speaker 1 (25:30):
So the GC should have sent the N C on the project. Typically it’s the property owner or the GCs burden to send out the N C but that’s a great question. The N NOC for a subcontractor is typically used in Florida to like track down like the information that’s required for an NTO. Although there can be some variable there because, you know, if someone enters in wrong information and you don’t want it to accidentally invalidate your claim of lean, I’ve seen that happen. Uh, so it’s always great to get a double check, but, um, that’s why subcontractors should be aware of the N OOC.

Speaker 2 (26:13):
Great. We have, we have some great questions. Y’all thank you so much for bringing them in. And we have one more question that says, how do I keep my subcontractors from filing lie on the property? If I haven’t paid them since the owner hasn’t paid me?

Speaker 1 (26:26):
Mm that’s a really good question. I, and it’s a really difficult question, right? Like I I’ve seen that handled in several different ways because of nonpayment. One is to be really transparent with your subcontractors. And so, you know, I don’t know what’s going on with your particular situation, but a lot of times like leveraging lean rights for you, the GC is helpful to get the subcontractors paid. And if the property owner still hasn’t paid, you maybe having the substance suppliers file lean, isn’t a bad thing. It puts more pressure on them to issue payment. Um, now one way that if they’ve been paid up to the final draw, as long as you’ve collected lean waivers on portions of that project, you know, that section of the job that they’ve been paid in full, they can’t plan a lean on, uh, which is why, you know, oftentimes waivers are, are really helpful for prime contractors, uh, and in such case, you know, level sets able to help manage lean waivers as well, and could talk about some best practices there. Um, so if you’d like to talk after this meeting, be happy to chat.

Speaker 2 (27:34):
Great. We don’t have more questions right now. If we wanna hang back for a little bit, Amanda, we can do that and filter any additional questions if come through.

Speaker 1 (27:43):
Yeah. I’m happy to chill away. Also. Did anyone answer the question of the day? Like, I feel like everyone left me hanging there.

Speaker 2 (27:53):
No, we didn’t. We don’t have any answers. <laugh>,

Speaker 1 (27:57):
I’m the only one with, with animal dreams. Um, but yeah, please, if there are any questions that you guys have, or if there’s any kind of communication apprehension where you just don’t feel comfortable asking at a, a big forum, feel free to scan this QR code and schedule a call with me, I’d be happy to chat about your questions or what your current process is, and kind of do like an evaluation of any gaps that we see. Like, this is what I do day in and day out is help customers and folks, you know, deal with payment problems and then avoid them moving forward to make sure that they’re getting paid within the timeframe that they wanna get paid.

Speaker 2 (28:34):
Awesome. I’d also like to redact the statement, Amanda, Eric says that you would like a pet squirrel.

Speaker 1 (28:40):
Thanks, Eric. I really appreciate you. I kind of wonder what kind of squirrel though, because like flying squirrels, super cool. But I’ve also met like chill squirrels, like around the university, just because people feed them all the time.

Speaker 2 (29:03):
You said more chill ones,

Speaker 1 (29:05):
Uh, more chill ones. Like the ones that come like eat outta your hand. It’s always great.

Speaker 2 (29:10):
Hey Amanda, we actually did have another question come in. Um, so they said if the lean amount is incorrect after I filed, can the owner now file a false lie?

Speaker 1 (29:21):
So was it incorrect at the time of filing? That would be my question. No,

Speaker 2 (29:29):
It was not.

Speaker 1 (29:31):
Okay. So in that case, like, again, I don’t want to give any kind of legal advice there. Uh, not to be deflective. It’s just, you know, as a liability to myself and the company, but, um, oftentimes like if that’s the case, like if they made some portion of payment, then someone would amend, uh, for the, the appropriate amount. The, the reason why, like I always caution people about invalid, clean of liens is either one someone’s filing like way past their deadline or, uh, they didn’t send an NTO if it’s a requirement. And so that opens you up to potentially a counter Sue, but if they’ve made some kind of payment there, typically there would be an amendment to the lie for the appropriate amount, um, to still, you know, make sure that you’re getting paid for the rest of it that you’re owed. But these are great questions. Anything else?

Speaker 2 (30:37):
I think we are all set.

Speaker 1 (30:39):
Oh, cool. I just wanna, you know, again, thank everyone so much for attending today’s webinar. As I mentioned before, you’ll receive a recording of this webinar and an email tomorrow or the following day, feel free to share with your team. I also wanna mention that if you want more information about level set and how we can help send your notices or help with slow payment, we’re happy to provide a customized demo for you and anyone on your team. So just scan that QR code and I will reach out to you as soon as I’m able, even if you have some additional questions, like I said, don’t be shy. Go ahead and scan the QR code, request a call, be happy to chat. Um, I hope you guys have a great rest of your day and a great rest of your week, and we’ll see you next time.