Florida’s Construction Lien Laws: Right to Lien

Florida’s Construction Lien Laws: Right to Lien

By James M. Gonzalez October 30, 2019 Posted in Construction Law

This is first in a series of blogs discussing Florida’s lien laws. These will start with the basic questions and move through Florida’s Construction Lien laws from the start of a project through completion.

RIGHT TO LIEN

I am often asked – by both owners and all types of tradesmen and suppliers – whether the work being performed on a given project is subject to Florida’s lien laws. More specifically, whether an individual or company has a “right to lien.” As an initial point of reference, construction liens are subject to Florida Statutes, Chapter 713. To understand whether work being performed on a project is lienable, we must first determine whether the person or entity is considered a “Lienor” pursuant to Florida’s lien laws. Under 713.01 (18), a “Lienor” is defined as a person who is:

  1. A contractor;
  2. A subcontractor;
  3. A sub-subcontractor;
  4. A laborer;
  5. A materialman who contracts with the owner, a contractor, a subcontractor, or a sub-subcontractor; or
  6. A professional lienor under s. 713.03;

And who has a lien or prospective lien upon real property under this part, and includes his or her successor in interest. No other person may have a lien under this part.

The statute goes a step further and provides definitions for each of these individuals. The availability of lien rights relating to a given project rests on whether the individual or entity falls into one of these definitions:

  1. Contractor – Fla. Stat. 713.01 (8) defines contractor as “a person other than a materialman or laborer who enters into a contract with the owner of real property for improving it, or who takes over from a contractor as so defined the entire remaining work under such contract. The term “contractor” includes an architect, landscape architect, or engineer who improves real property pursuant to a design-build contract authorized by s. 103(16).”
  2. Subcontractor – Fla. Stat. 713.01 (28) defines subcontractor as “a person other than a materialman or laborer who enters into a contract with a contractor for the performance of any part of such contractor’s contract, including the removal of solid waste from the real property. The term includes a temporary help firm as defined in s. 101.”
  3. Sub-subcontractor – Fla. Stat. 713.01 (29) defines sub-subcontractor as “a person other than a materialman or laborer who enters into a contract with a subcontractor for the performance of any part of such subcontractor’s contract, including the removal of solid waste from the real property. The term includes a temporary help firm as defined in s. 101.”
  4. Laborer – Fla. Stat. 713.01 (16) defines laborer as “any person other than an architect, landscape architect, engineer, surveyor and mapper, and the like who, under properly authorized contract, personally performs on the site of the improvement labor or services for improving real property and does not furnish materials or labor service of others.”
  5. Materialman – Fla. Stat. 713.01 (20) defines materialman as “any person who furnishes materials under contract to the owner, contractor, subcontractor, or sub-subcontractor on the site of the improvement or for direct delivery to the site of the improvement or, for specially fabricated materials, off the site of the improvement for the particular improvement, and who performs no labor in the installation thereof.”
  6. Professional lienor – Fla. Stat. 713.03 (20) defines a professional lienor as any person who performs services as architect, landscape architect, interior designer, engineer, or surveyor and mapper, subject to compliance with and the limitations imposed by this part.”

If the individual or entity meets the definition of a Lienor as described above, then they may have a right to lien a project or property. The inquiry does not stop there. Florida Statute, Chapter 713 requires the Lienor to perform additional steps prior to securing its lien rights. This holds true even prior to seeking to record a lien on a property. Our next blog will discuss the “Notice to Owner” requirement. Stay tuned!

For more information on lien rights and how they may impact your property, project or business, do not hesitate to contact us via the link below.

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