In this blog post, we will delve into the detailed steps required to successfully lien a construction project in Florida.
What Are the Steps to Lien a Project?
Step 1 – Sending the Notice to Owner (NTO)
The first crucial step to lien a project is sending a Notice to Owner (NTO). However, if you have a direct contract with the property owner, you may not need to send an NTO. Failure to send an NTO can prevent you from filing a lien later, or if the NTO is sent after the deadline, it could render your lien invalid.
The timeline for sending the NTO is determined by the date of first furnishing labor or supplying materials to the project. This date is referred to as "Day 1." The NTO must be sent by Day 40 to ensure that it is properly served and stamped by the United States Postal Service (USPS). If the Notice to Owner Florida Form is not received by the 45th day, it loses its validity. An important exception to this rule is when dealing with specially fabricated materials, where the 45-day clock starts ticking as soon as fabrication begins.
Step 2 – Preparing the Lien with the Correct Form
A critical aspect of the process is preparing the lien using the correct form. In Florida, a Notice to Owner is a specific legal form that needs to be filled out accurately. This form can typically be downloaded from official sources or obtained through legal resources. It's essential to adhere to the proper format and content requirements outlined in Florida Statute 713.08.
Step 3 – Determining the Last Day on the Job
Timing is of the essence when you plan to lien a construction project. You have a window of only 90 days from the last day you worked on the property to file a lien. Waiting until the last minute could jeopardize your ability to record the lien in time. To ensure best practice, it's recommended to file the lien within 60 days from the last day of furnishing labor and/or materials.
Step 4 – Recording the Lien in the Appropriate County
The next step is to record the lien in the appropriate county. A lien is recorded in the county where the improvements are being made. For instance, if you're working on a project in Miami Beach, Florida, you would record your lien in Miami-Dade County. Recording the lien in the wrong county can lead to complications and potential challenges in the future.
Step 5 – Mailing the Lien
After successfully recording the lien, it's crucial to mail copies of the lien to all relevant parties involved in the project within 15 days. This mailing must be done by certified mail. Failing to mail the lien copies can invalidate the lien, rendering your efforts ineffective.
All of the above steps contribute to the successful execution of the lien process. Adhering to these steps ensures that your rights as a contractor, subcontractor, or supplier are protected, and you have the legal means to pursue payment for the work and materials you've provided.