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Important Facts About Lien Priorities in Florida Construction


Construction liens are an essential tool for Florida contractors and suppliers to get paid, and there are numerous requirements you must meet to secure and enforce your interest. However, going through the steps for a construction lien is not necessarily a guarantee of payment. Under the Florida statute on priority of liens, there are two groups for purposes of precedence in payment, and how you are classified will have a significant impact.

The issue of lien priorities will only enter the picture if the property that is the subject of the project is foreclosed. Still, you need to be aware of a few issues that could arise if you find yourself low on the list. Plus, you should be familiar with other legal options for getting paid. A Florida construction liens attorney will assist with details, and some background is useful.

 Basic Lien Priority Issues: In Florida, the default rule is that the first in time is the first in right for lien priorities. The lien may attach automatically in the case of design professionals and site improvement, but the majority of contractors will fall under a different rule. Their liens attach when filed in the county where the project is located; it may even be earlier where there is a Notice of Commencement on file, in which case that filing date dictates.

However, aside from the issue of when a lien attaches, there is also the matter of ranking them when they share an attachment date. Under the Florida statute, construction liens have priorities in this order:

  • Construction liens filed by laborers;
  • Liens of all parties other than the contractor, i.e., subcontractors; and,
  • A construction lien filed by the general contractor.

Each higher up class must be paid in full before those lower in priority will be entitled to payment. If it is not possible to pay all in the same tier, they will receive a percentage share.

 Legal Alternatives to Construction Lien Foreclosure: The general contractor is lowest on the list because there is privity of contract with the owner. It is still possible for general contractors to sue for breach of contract to get paid, so they drop in lien priority.

Fortunately, subcontractors have relief as well. Even though they were unable to obtain payment through the lien, there is a cause of action termed unjust enrichment. You must be able to prove that the owner received an unfair advantage because of your efforts, and you should receive restitution for what you expended.

 A Florida Construction Liens Lawyer Can Advise You on Strategy 

It is absolutely critical to file and preserve your lien rights in a construction project, but you cannot overlook the possibility that lien priorities will affect payment. When you are lower on the list, it is necessary to explore other remedies that will get you paid. To learn more, please contact Linkhorst Law Firm, P.A. at 561-626-8880 or visit our website. We can set up a consultation at our offices in Jupiter, FL to discuss your options.



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