Fort Lauderdale Construction Law Firm in South Florida
Even minor construction projects are complex affairs that can involve multiple contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers. Unfortunately, things can go wrong in any project, and the parties involved need to understand how to protect their rights. Understanding the construction lien process and how to navigate its pitfalls is critical to ensuring you get paid.
Olive Judd is a Fort Lauderdale construction law firm with years of experience in the construction lien process. Call us at (954) 334-2250 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our construction lien lawyers to discuss how we can help.
What is a Construction Lien?
A construction lien is a way to secure an interest in real property. More specifically, the construction lien is a claim against the title to the property for the value of the materials or services provided by that party as part of the construction process. The lien protects their interests by preventing the sale or finance of the property without paying off the lien.
The Construction Lien Process is Complicated in Florida
Under Florida law, construction liens must be filed within a specific timeframe or you will lose your rights. In addition, you must follow a specific process and use specific forms and a simple mistake can jeopardize your claim.
The Notice of Commencement and the Notice to Owner
The process arguably starts when the property owner posts a Notice of Commencement on the property, indicating that construction will begin soon. The lien process will differ depending on who wishes to file the lien:
- Contractors who have entered into a contract directly with the property owner.
- Subcontractors, laborers, and materialmen hired by the contractor.
Because they do not have any direct relationship with the property owners, all subcontractors, laborers, and materialmen must then send a Notice to Owner that informs the owner of their right to be promptly paid for their labor, services, or materials. The Notice to Owner must be sent at least 45 days prior to commencing work. If you fail to send the Notice to Owner, you will not be able to subsequently file a lien. Contractors with a direct relationship with the owner do not need to send a Notice to Owner in order to later file a lien.
Filing and Enforcing the Lien
If the property owner does not pay your invoices, you can then file a lien against the property. However, your lien must be filed within 90 days of the last date you performed work or provided materials or service. If you do not file your lien within this timeframe, you have lost your right to pursue a lien.
Unfortunately, the lien does not by itself force the owner to make payment. In order to further assert your rights, you must file a lawsuit in order to enforce the lien. However, you must file your lawsuit within one year of filing your lien or it will be automatically discharged. The property owner can also challenge your lien, which could impact your rights.
Olive Judd – A Fort Lauderdale Construction Law Firm
Because the process is so complicated and mistakes can be so costly, we strongly recommend that you hire a construction lawyer who has extensive experience with the construction lien process. The attorneys at our Fort Lauderdale construction law firm have the knowledge, skill, and experience you need to protect your claim. Call us at (954) 334-2250 or send us an email to meet with one of our construction lien lawyers to discuss how we can help.