Florida Claim of Lien
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Claim of Lien for Real Estate Located in Florida
What is a Claim of Lien?
A claim of lien is a legal claim to property that operates as security against any amount of money or services owed to another person or entity. A claim of lien must be recorded in a public records office so that anyone else with a potential interest in the property has notice of the pending claim. Filing this form places a lien on the property, which restricts the owner's ability to use it as collateral for a loan, sell it, or otherwise transfer it. A lien can also be foreclosed by filing a lawsuit in order to force a sale and pay all lien claimants according to what they are owed and what order they are to be paid.
Filing and recording a claim of lien is an essential step in ensuring that you have priority of payment versus all other lien claimants with their own potential claims against the property. Unless you are providing labor only, prior to filing your claim of lien, you must first serve a notice on the owner setting forth the lienor's name and address, a description sufficient for identification of the real property, and the nature of the services or materials furnished or to be furnished. FLA. STAT. 713.06(2)(a).
You must file your claim on lien within 90 days from the last day you provided labor, services or materials to a construction or renovation project. It's usually good practice to record your claim of lien early. The earlier you record, the more likely you are in preventing the property owner from obtaining permanent financing or selling the property to a third party. Therefore, by recording early you can exert leverage on the owner to ensure greater chances of being paid.
The claim of lien may be prepared by the lienor or the lienor's employee or attorney and shall be signed and sworn to or affirmed by the lienor or the lienor's agent acquainted with the facts stated therein. FLA. STAT.
713.08(2). Be careful not to exaggerate your lien, because falsification of a lien will cause a forfeiture of your lien rights and is also a third degree felony in Florida. FLA.STAT. 713.31(3).
The claim of lien must be served on the owner by actual delivery or common carrier service such as registered/certified mail. If actual delivery or common carrier service are not feasible, service can be accomplished by posting the notice at the job site. FLA. STAT. 713/18(1). Failure to serve any claim of lien before recording or within 15 days after recording shall render the claim of lien voidable to the extent that the failure or delay is shown to have been prejudicial to any person entitled to rely on the service. FLA. STAT. 713.08(4)(c).
In Florida, all claim of lien forms must contain the following language in all upper-case:
WARNING! THIS LEGAL DOCUMENT REFLECTS THAT A CONSTRUCTION LIEN HAS BEEN PLACED ON THE REAL PROPERTY LISTED HEREIN. UNLESS THE OWNER OF SUCH PROPERTY TAKES ACTION TO SHORTEN THE TIME PERIOD, THIS LIEN MAY REMAIN VALID FOR ONE YEAR FROM THE DATE OF RECORDING, AND SHALL EXPIRE AND BECOME NULL AND VOID THEREAFTER UNLESS LEGAL PROCEEDINGS HAVE BEEN COMMENCED TO FORECLOSE OR TO DISCHARGE THIS LIEN.
This claim of lien form must be signed and notarized before filing it with the Clerk of Court for the county where the project is located. In most counties, the claim of lien is filed with the Clerk of Courts, but some counties have a separate County Recorder department so it is important to verify the correct office for filing.
After the lien is recorded, you have one year to file your foreclosure suit on the lien. If the owner contests the lien in a judicial action, the time can be shortened to sixty (60) or twenty (20) days.
Each case is unique, and lien law is complicated, so contact an attorney with specific questions or for complex situations relating to Mechanic's Liens in Florida.