Construction LawContract LawZinnLaw construction lien

Serving clients in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Estero, Bonita Springs, Naples, Alva, Lee and Collier County, Florida

Technically, you can file a construction lien at any point while the work is ongoing.  When you work with us at ZinnLaw, we will be sure to pay close attention to all the details, as moving forward in the process can get tricky.  You must file no later than 90 days after the last date you furnished labor or materials.

While the date you last worked on a project may seem easy enough to determine, it’s not always crystal clear. In simple terms, the date is the claimant’s last date on the project.  It’s an individual date specific only to the person filing the lien and no one else associated with the project.  Even if other subcontractors continued to do work at the site, the date used to determine your deadline to file a lien depends on the date you last furnished labor or materials to the project.  So, if that day was March 1, you have until May 30 to file a lien.

To help clarify, Florida courts use this test to determine when the 90-day countdown begins for potential claimants.  In order to qualify for a lien, the project has to meet these categories:

  1. Work was performed in good faith
  2. Within a reasonable time
  3. In pursuance of the terms of the contract
  4. When it was necessary to complete the job

These cases, however, can often be fairly complex.  Some final furnishings can’t be done if there’s work left to be performed on the contract.  Even minor work that remains to be completed may delay a claimant’s 90-day clock from starting.

While some work delays the counter, others that seem like it would delay it does not.  Incidental work doesn’t stop the timer.  Therefore, warranty work, repair work, or corrective work, including punch list items, won’t halt the countdown.

Remember, the 90-day deadline is enforced even if the project isn’t completed.  If you were involved in an early stage of a large project, don’t wait until it has been completed to file a lien. By waiting, you may exceed the 90-day deadline and miss your opportunity to file a lien.

These rules are important to know because, in Florida, there are no exceptions or extensions.  In 1972, the Florida Supreme Court made clear that deadlines exist for a reason.  In the case of Jack Stilson & Co. v. Caloosa Bayview Corp., the court wrote, “[t]he purpose of the fixed periods provided in such statutory remedies as the one here involved of the Mechanics’ Lien Law was to make definite and certain the time within which the matter can be considered as ended.”  The court went on to add, “This assurance should not be destroyed by an “open-ended” right of amendment by a lienor beyond the period provided by statute.”

Assisting Contractors and Property Owners in Lee and Collier County Florida

ZinnLaw serves general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and owners in all aspects of construction. We assist in construction claim and lien analysis, dispute resolution, and litigation. Our practice includes litigation of construction and design defects. Contact us today if you are faced with a construction lien case.