Serving clients in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Estero, Bonita Springs, Naples, Alva, Lee and Collier County, Florida
Florida’s construction lien laws are a bit complicated, so at ZinnLaw, we’ve decided to break down the process for you. Once you understand how liens work in Florida, you’ll better understand your rights. A construction lien is a legal claim for unpaid work. In other words, if a contractor isn’t paid in full for a project, he or she can file a lien with the court. The lien serves to hold the property owner accountable until payment is made. With a lien on the real estate title, it is very difficult, if not impossible, for the property owner to sell the property until the lien is removed.
Who can file a construction lien in Florida?
In Florida, direct contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, equipment lessors, and laborers can file a lien on land or real property. Lien rights are given to mechanics under Florida construction law to direct contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, equipment lessors, and laborers when they perform work for the “permanent benefit” of land or property. Additionally, design professionals (including architects, engineers, and surveyors) can file a construction lien for their services, even if the project was never actually carried out to completion.
However, in order for a lien to be filed, all of these potential claimants must be licensed. Florida law is quite strict in this regard. Without a license, not only will the contractor be unable to file a construction lien, but they will not be able to pursue claims for unlicensed work and may be subject to fines.
A few more caveats about who can file construction liens in Florida:
- Material suppliers’ lien rights are limited to those supplying materials to the second tier of subcontractors and higher. The suppliers of suppliers don’t have lien rights.
- Yard maintenance, such as grass mowing or tree trimming, is not lienable in Florida. Landscapers’ work, such as planting trees and shrubs, is lienable though in certain cases.
- Cleaning companies hired to mop, sweep, polish or vacuum after a construction project is completed cannot file liens. Companies that clear debris caused by demolition and construction can file liens though.
Do I need a lawyer to file a construction lien in Florida?
Technically, no, you don’t. You can file a lien claim on your own. It’s important to keep in mind though that Florida’s construction lien laws are complicated and difficult to navigate. Plus, timelines are easy to misinterpret, and you could very well miss a deadline without full understanding of the law. It’s to your advantage to employ the services of an experienced attorney, like Brian Zinn, who is familiar with filing liens in Florida. That way, you can focus on your other construction projects while your attorney handles the lien and helps you recover the money you’re owed. Contact us today about your case.