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Notice To Owner FAQ
A Florida Notice to Owner (Florida’s version of the preliminary notice) is a letter sent by a contractor, laborer or supplier to the property owner at the start of a construction project. In many states, a preliminary notice is required to be sent in order to secure the right to lien.
With the exception of wage laborers, anyone who does not directly contract with the owner of a property is required to send a Notice to Owner, as a Florida preliminary notice is known.
A Florida Notice to Owner or NTO must be sent within 45 days of first furnishing labor or materials, or within 45 days after work on specialty materials begins, or before the property owner’s last payment to the hiring party, whichever is the earliest.
In Florida, if you were hired by the property owner, send the Notice to Owner to the property owner.
If you were hired by a general contractor, send the notice to the general contractor and the property owner.
If you were hired by a subcontractor, send the notice to the property owner, the general contractor and the subcontractor that hired you.
Failure to send a Florida Notice to Owner will remove the claimant’s right to lien.
Intent To File FAQ
A Florida notice of intent to lien is sent before the filing of a mechanics lien becomes necessary. Although only a number of states require that this notice be sent, many construction participants send a notice of intent to lien as an uncostly way to have payments for invoices settled.
No, you are not required to send a notice of intent to lien in Florida. But you may send this notice anyway to advise the receiver that a mechanics lien will be filed in case a payment dispute remains unsettled.
You may send a Florida notice of intent to lien anytime before filing a mechanics lien.
You may send a Florida notice of intent to lien to the property owner or and/or the person whom you have a contract with.
Not sending a notice of intent to lien in Florida will not affect your lien rights.
Mechanics Lien FAQ
A Florida mechanics lien is an effective tool that helps make sure you will be paid for the construction materials and/or labor you supplied. It is a legal claim that guarantees payment for contractors.
This means that if you file a valid mechanics lien on a project you worked on and weren’t paid for your work, you have the right to enforce the lien through a lawsuit. This enforcement action can either prompt the client to settle or force the sale of the property. The proceeds of the sale will be used to settle your unpaid bill.
With a Florida mechanics lien, you have an interest in the improved property. When a mechanics lien is filed on the property you worked on, the property becomes collateral for uncollected payments.
Parties who can file a Florida mechanics lien include prime contractors, subcontractors, sub-subs, laborers, material supplier to owner/contractor/sub/or sub-sub, and professionals, including architect, landscape architect, interior designer, engineer, surveyor or mapper).¹
Suppliers to suppliers and suppliers to subcontractors below the second-tier do not have lien rights.
The following are the steps you need to follow in filing a Florida mechanics lien.
Step 1: Have your lien form ready.
Ask a notary to verify the signature of an agent or another person or entity who has knowledge of the facts stated in your document. It should be notarized before it can be filed.
Step 2: Send the original notarized document to the office of the clerk in the county where the project is located.
If the property is situated in more than one county, the mechanics lien must be recorded in the clerk’s office of each of the counties. Send the original copy of the lien to the clerk via mail or FedEx. In most Florida counties, there’s also the option to e-record it. You may also file the document in person.
If you are looking to e-record your mechanics lien, the fees for filing and processing will be computed before recording. If you are sending the lien via mail or FedEx, make sure to include the proper filing fees. Otherwise, your mechanics lien may get rejected. The same is true when filing it in person.
To know the fee that has to be paid, call the recorder before sending your document or walking in with it. The fee is usually determined by the amount set for the first page plus the sum of the smaller amounts set for the succeeding pages.
Step 3: Ask for a stamped copy of the mechanics lien once it has been recorded.
In order to receive a copy of the document, you must include a self-addressed stamped envelope in your filing along with the fees for recording.
A Florida mechanics lien must be filed within 90 days of last supplying materials or labor.²
A Florida mechanics lien is effective during the entire year that it is required to be enforced.³ This period can be shortened or extended under the following circumstances:
- If the claimant furnished labor or materials after the original lien was recorded and filed an updated lien, the one-year period to enforce the lien is reset and now starts on the date the lien was updated.
- The foreclosure period is shortened to 60 days after the lien’s filing if the property owner serves a Notice of Contest of Lien.
- The period is shortened to 20 days after the lien’s filing if the owner of the property or an interested party files a lawsuit and the county clerk issues a summons to the claimant.
Florida requires the following pieces of information to appear on the mechanics lien form:
- The name and address of the lienor
- The name of the person who contracted with or employed the lienor
- The materials, services or labor provided by the lienor and their prices in the contract; materials fabricated outside the project site and their prices should be separately stated
- A description of the property
- The name of the property owner
- The amount due to the lienor as well as unpaid charges due under the contract
- If the lienor did not directly contract with the property owner, the notice’s date and method of service; if the lienor did not contract with the general contractor or a subcontractor, the copy of the notice’s date and method of service on the direct contractor or subcontractor
Florida law states that “no lien shall exist in favor of any contractor, subcontractor, or sub-subcontractor who is unlicensed.”⁴ However, if a lienor with a valid license contracts with a lienor who doesn’t have one, the lien rights of the one with a license are preserved.
Also, a materialman or laborer does not need to have a license to work in Florida.
Florida has legislatively designed lien waiver forms which claimants are required to use. Any lien waiver used that does not conform to the mandated design will be considered invalid.⁵
A lien release may be required in Florida after the lien has been satisfied or it has expired.
Pay when paid clauses are generally enforceable in Florida. Pay if paid clauses, meanwhile, are enforceable only if they clearly and unambiguously state that the risk of nonpayment is shifted from the owner to the contractor.