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Construction Law 101: An Introduction to Mechanic’s Liens

When working in the construction industry, it is important to understand what a mechanic’s lien is and how it can be used. To put it simply, this type of lien is the best way to ensure you get paid in full for the work you perform or the materials you provide. In most cases, major construction contracts don’t pay in full up front. To protect yourself, your construction company can file a mechanic’s lien to help guarantee payment. If the property owner doesn’t pay as agreed, you can enforce the lien; and if necessary, you can require the sale of the property to cover your payment. This blog post offers an introduction to who can use this type of lien, and how they are used.

What is the Benefit of a Mechanic’s Lien?

Mechanic’s liens are primarily used by construction companies, contractors, suppliers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and others. The lien will provide you with an additional way to recover payments that are owed to you. If you perform a job as agreed and you aren’t paid, you may file a breach of contract against the other party involved. If you’ve properly secured your lien rights, you can also sue for foreclosure of the lien.

Getting a Mechanic’s Lien

When performing work prior to being paid, you need to make sure you take all the necessary steps to secure your lien rights so that any potential future lien will be enforceable. There are a number of important steps you need to go through in order to properly get a mechanic’s lien:

  • Note Your Requirements Lien – Florida lien law is very complicated and many requirements must be met to preserve your lien rights.  The requirements under Florida law often depend on your relationship with the property owner. There are documents that must be filed and deadlines which must be met.  Anyone who does not have a direct contract with the property owner must send the owner a Notice to Owner. This document must be sent before or within 45 days of starting work or supplying materials.  This document should also be sent “up the chain” to anyone who is above you on the payment chain. The owner may have also specified others who require a copy. There are also situations where the general contractor may want to send a Notice to Owner, even if he or she has a direct contract with the owner.  Speaking with an attorney is the best way to ensure you are doing things properly.
  • Claim of Lien – After the work has been completed, you have 90 days to record a claim of lien. This claim must be notarized and recorded at the County Records office in the county where the work was done.
  • Lawsuit to Foreclose – If the client still doesn’t pay the money they owe, a lawsuit to foreclose must be filed within one year of the filing a claim of lien.  There may be other prerequisites to filing this lawsuit and the property owner also has options to speed up the process and/or dispute the lien.

These are the three main steps associated with getting a mechanic’s lien and having it enforced. In most cases, there will be other things that need to be done to not only get the lien in place, but to help encourage the client to pay. It is also important to note that the amount stated on the lien must be correct or you may find yourself being sued for a fraudulent lien and exposed to paying the property owner’s attorneys’ fees.  The best way to ensure every step is taken properly is to have an attorney working on your behalf.

Working with an Attorney

If you need to have a mechanic’s lien in place for a job you are taking on, you need to make sure it is handled correctly. Portuondo Law Firm has years of experience helping people in many industries get the liens they need to protect their bottom line. Please contact us to set up a consultation and get the help you need. Whether you’re looking for one-time assistance, or you’d like to have us help with this type of lien for all your jobs, we are here for you.

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters, and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send us any documents to review or confidential information until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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