Serving clients in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Estero, Bonita Springs, Naples, Alva, Lee and Collier County, Florida
Florida laws about construction liens are complicated. Even veteran contractors with years of experience working in the Sunshine State may not fully understand their rights when they encounter a situation where a lien is needed. At Zinnlaw we work with both contractors and homeowners, and liens are an important part of construction law.
Even though they can be complicated, liens are an extremely important tool for people in the construction profession to have at their side. Generally, contractors have to cover material and labor costs up front while property owners pay for the bulk of the project after the work has been completed. These costs can be so significant that contractors essentially go into the red at the beginning of any project and later set right their financial ship once the property owner pays them for their services.
In the event that a property owner doesn’t make payment at the completion of a project, the contractor must foot the entire bill for materials and labor, as well as any subcontractors used. The specialized services of artisans, designers, landscapers, and other skilled professionals may have also been hired to work on the project, and would need to be compensated for their part.
Even though construction contracts dictate the price a property owner will pay for the project, many don’t follow through with or are slow to pay for the work for any number of reasons. Some property owners need to be coerced into paying for the project, and a lien is the best way to get a property owner to make good on their end of the contract. Liens allow contractors to claim a financial stake in a property until payment is received. If payment isn’t made and the case advances to a lawsuit, the property could enter foreclosure. At this point, the contractor could then sell it at auction. In the best-case scenario, the contract would be able to recover the amount owed plus more to cover attorney and court fees.
These types of property liens are called by several different names, including mechanics liens or construction liens. The use of mechanics liens can actually be traced back to the early days of the United States, when newly titled landowners were building structures on their properties. Thomas Jefferson introduced the first lien laws in 1791 as a way to protect builders and tradesmen’s livelihoods. In those days, these professionals were called “mechanics.” Today, every state has construction lien laws to ensure contractors are paid in full for their completed work.
Brian D. Zinn is originally from Brooklyn, New York. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts, he went on to Boston University’s School of Law where he attained his Juris Doctor.
Prior to being admitted to the Florida Bar in May of 2005, he had already been admitted to practice law in: the State Courts of New York and New Jersey, the District of Columbia, the United States District Courts for the Southern District of New York and the District of New Jersey, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court.