New Law Means Changes are on the Way for Construction Liens in Florida
Laws are constantly changing, being updated, and amended, and frequently there are bills passed by lawmakers that directly affect Florida construction contractors. A Florida bill (HB 331) on construction liens and bonds passed both legislatures and was signed into law on June 12, 2023, by the governor. The measure includes numerous provisions on notices, payment bonds, licensing, and many other topics that may impact your business. If you are not yet familiar with the new requirements, you have time to get up to speed before the statute becomes effective October 1, 2023.
Because the legal landscape can change so quickly, it is wise to get input from a knowledgeable attorney. Not only are new bills passed by lawmakers, but there are also court decisions and rule changes that could affect contractors in Florida. If you would like more information on the recently passed bill, reach out to a Florida construction liens lawyer who can explain the specific provisions. You can also learn about the basics by reviewing a summary.
New Parties Entitled to Liens: HB 331 expands the definition of “contractor,” to include licensed general and building contractors who act as construction managers. The previous version of the law left a gap for companies that were solely performing construction or program management services. Now, these contractors have the ability to claim construction liens if they are not paid, in the same way as other contractors.
Notice of Termination: Under the new law, notices of termination of the notice of commencement period must be served upon certain parties before recording them. The notice of termination must be delivered to each lienor in privity with the owner, meaning contractors that have a direct contract with the owner. It must also be served to each party that prepared a notice to the owner.
If properly served under this provision, a notice of termination operates to end the notice of commencement period 30 days after recording.
Awarding Attorney’s Fees: In certain cases, a prevailing party may be able to obtain reasonable attorneys’ fees and legal costs incurred to enforce a lien. You can seek reimbursement of these amounts in any action to enforce a lien that was transferred to a security. If the legal action is in court, the judge will determine fees; in arbitration, the arbitrator or panel will decide.
Computing Time for Notices: Construction liens in Florida are extremely time-sensitive in terms of notices and recording. At the same time, hurricanes can often keep county offices shut down while important deadlines are pending. The new law allows the dates to be tolled in such a situation.
A Florida Construction Liens Attorney Can Explain the Changes
At Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A., our team is well-versed in construction lien laws, and members of our firm actively participated in getting the new law passed. To learn more about the statute and how it affects your business, please call 561-626-8880 or go online to schedule a consultation. Our firm serves clients in Palm Beach County in a wide range of construction law matters, so we are happy to explain details.