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Florida Construction Liens

by | May 7, 2024 | Firm News |

Florida has a statutory framework that governs construction liens in Florida.  The lien law is designed to protect both the homeowner and the contractor.  The specific statutory chapter is Chapter 713 of the Florida Statutes. All of Florida Statutes can be viewed online at http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/.

Pursuant to section 713.05 of the Florida statutes a contractor in privity with the owner has a right to lien the property to get paid.  To become effective, a contractor, who is in privity with the homeowner, must record a lien within 90 days of the date that they last did work.  If the contractor fails to record the lien within the 90-day period, any lien recorded can be invalidated by a court.

Contractors who are not in privity with the owner have the right to lien the property under Section 713.06 of the Florida Statutes.  If the contractor is not in privity with the property owner, the contractor must send a notice to owner to the homeowner within 45 days of the date that the contractor starts work.  The notice to owner is designed to notify the property owner that the contractor is doing work on the property.  When a property owner makes payment for work done, it is the obligation of the property owner to make sure that all contractors are paid who give the appropriate notice.  For example, if a property owner receives a notice to owner from a person, who is working under a general contractor, such as the supplier of cabinets or materials, the property owner must make sure that the contractor provides a lien release from the supplier of cabinets or materials that provided the notice.  If the property owner fails to make sure that the subcontractor providing the notice has been paid, the property owner could pay twice for the same work.

At the end of the job, the property owner should seek what is known as a contractor’s affidavit from the general contractor.  The contractor’s affidavit must list all the subcontractors and materialmen that worked on the job that have not been paid.  It is the owner’s responsibility to make sure that, if he received a notice to owner, that he receives a lien release before making final payment.  This is true even If the subcontractor who provided the notice to owner is not listed on the contractor’s affidavit. The owner is also entitled to make payment directly to any of the subcontractors listed on the contractor’s affidavit.

The general contractor must provide an accurate and truthful contractor’s affidavit.   Should a general contractor fail to list an unpaid subcontractor or materialmen, under some circumstances, it can be considered a felony under Florida law. Section 713.35 of the Florida Statutes. Thus, the property owner is entitled to rely on the contractor’s affidavit, unless the property owner has received a notice to owner.

Chapter 713 of the Florida Statutes is constantly changing.  Generally, the legislature makes changes in July of each year and the changes become effective that same year.  It is important to be aware of Chapter 713 and its pitfalls and issues, when doing any construction or remodeling in Florida.