Protecting your rights to a mechanic's lien in Florida can be very complex. There are some essential steps that you need to follow in order to make sure that you're paid for your labor and materials.
The necessary steps you need to follow are outlined in Chapter 713 of the Florida Uniform Federal Lien Registration Act:
1) Deliver a Notice to Owner.
A Notice to Owner (NTO) needs to be given to the property owner by any subcontractor except for individual laborers and certain design professionals, like architects. Timing is everything, because if you don't send an NTO within 45 days of providing your materials or labor, you'll likely lose your right to a lien.
2.) Record the lien.
Again, timing is critical. If you haven't been paid for the materials or work you provided, you only have 90 days from the date the job was completed to record the lien.
That 90-day period does not include any days where you corrected problems or fixed something under warranty. The count begins when the substantive portion of the work was completed or the equipment you provided was last on site.
3.) Know your deadlines.
In Florida, you generally only have one year to enforce a mechanic's lien from the date that it was initially recorded. However, that enforcement period can drop to as little as 20 days if the property owner or general contractor files a countersuit and a summons is sent to you. In that situation, you'll have to show a justifiable cause for the lien to the court in order to preserve your rights.
When you file your lien, it's extremely important that you avoid any accidental misstatement of material facts. A miscalculation, inclusion of unapproved expenses or an exaggerated amount can open lien holders up to third-degree felony charges under the Statue.
Given the harshness of Florida's laws on the issues of liens, it's wise to consult with an attorney to make certain that you preserve your rights to the payment you've earned. For more information about how our firm will approach any potential construction litigation, please visit our page.