For general contractors, contractors, subcontractors and construction material suppliers, getting paid can often be an issue. Even on big projects with multiple sources of funding, there always seems to be a reason not to get paid. But, if you worked on a Florida construction project or supplied materials for one, but have not been paid, you may have the right to place a lien on the property, which can help get you paid.
What is a lien?
A lien is a legal claim that gives you a security interest in the property until you receive payment. It can stop a property sale or refinance until the lien is released, i.e., until you are paid.
The first step to getting a lien here is that you need to have a valid contract with the owner directly or a valid contract with a person or entity that has the authority to bind the owner, like a construction or remodeling contract with the owner. To be clear though, the contract can be in writing or oral, but it must include the full scope of the work and price, including the payment terms.
Notice to the owner
If there was a contract, you fulfilled it, but you were not paid, the next step in the Florida lien process is to provide notice to the property owner and any other party liable for your payment.
Notice informs the liable parties of who you are, the description of the work done or materials provided and the amount due. This notice is due within 45 days of you finishing the work or providing materials for the project, and it can be sent by certified mail, personal delivery or posting at the job site. Keep your proof of service.
Record the claim of lien
You record a claim of lien with the clerk of the circuit court in the county where the property is located. The claim of lien is a legal document that creates the lien.
It includes your name, address, a description of the work you did or materials provided, the amount due, property description, the owner’s information and the date you did the work or supplied the materials.
It must be recorded within 90 days of that date, and a copy of the claim of lien must be sent to the owner within 15 days of the lien recording.
You can enforce your lien. You can also use its existence to force negotiations and get you paid. It is a powerful tool to make sure your contract is fulfilled.