Quick Action Is Critical When An Owner Contests Your Mechanics Lien
If you have ever experienced problems getting payment on a Florida construction project, you always know that you have your mechanics lien rights to fall back on. In the majority of disputes, preparing and recording the proper paperwork will be sufficient. You might have to resort to litigation to enforce your lien if you still encounter difficulties in obtaining amounts due, but you get peace of mind with this protection in place. However, there is one aspect of state construction laws that could derail this strategy: The property owner can file a Notice of Contest of Lien or other legal recourse, which changes key deadlines and how you go about getting paid.
You still have options for addressing the situation when an owner contests your lien, and you can count on a Florida construction lien attorney to advise you. An overview on the statute covering these notices may also be useful.
Relevant Deadlines Under Florida Mechanics Lien Laws
You preserve your lien rights – and keep litigation open as an option, by complying with the following legal requirements:
- Delivering a Notice to Owner within 45 days after FIRST providing labor or materials, which applies to subcontractors;
- Filing your mechanics lien within 90 days after LAST providing labor or materials; and
- Serving a copy of the recorded lien upon the owner within 15 days after filing it.
When these efforts fail, the final step in getting payment is initiating a lawsuit in court. As a contractor with a lien claim, you have one year from the date you filed your lien.
When Your Deadline May Be Cut Short
You would hope it never gets to the point where you need to take legal action, but some owners are more concerned with an encumbrance on the property’s title than paying you. Therefore, you need to be aware of two ways a property owner can shorten important deadlines.
- The owner can file a Notice of Contest of Lien, a form which contains a general statement disputing the validity of the mechanics lien. The county clerk will then forward a copy to you as a lien claimant. As of the filing and recording date, you have 60 days to file a lawsuit to enforce your lien – far less than the one year for an uncontested claim. Failure will result in your lien rights being extinguished.
- The property owner may opt for an Action to Show Cause, which is itself a lawsuit. When this is the route the owner takes, you have 20 days to file an action to foreclose your lien.
Consult with a Florida Mechanics Lien Lawyer About Your Options
It is understandable that you are concerned about receiving an owner’s Notice of Contest of Lien, but you need to fully assess the situation before assuming your construction company is in the wrong. For more information on how to respond, please contact Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. to set up a consultation. We can explain the laws and advise you on strategy after learning your circumstances.