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Understanding Florida’s Construction Lien Law

On Behalf of | Feb 13, 2024 | Construction Law

Construction liens, also known as mechanics’ liens, are designed to safeguard the interests of builders, contractors, and other professionals in the construction industry. These liens are legal claims against a property that has been remodeled or improved but have unpaid work or supplies associated with it. Here’s a breakdown of essential aspects of Florida’s construction lien law:

Direct Contractors vs. Subcontractors

In Florida, professionals who have a direct contract with you—such as the general contractor, architect, and others—do not require to give a preliminary notice to have lien rights. These entities are often at the forefront of your project and, by the virtue of their contract, are entitled to file a lien if payments cease.

However, those without a direct contract, including subcontractors, material suppliers, and laborers, must provide you with a preliminary notice, known as a Notice to Owner (NTO). This notice must be served before a lien can be placed on your property and is essentially a declaration of their involvement in your project, which safeguards their right to file a lien later if necessary.

The Risks Even After Payment

It’s a common misconception that paying your direct contractor settles all dues. However, if your direct contractor neglects to pay the subcontractors, these subcontractors can still pursue a lien on your property, assuming they’ve previously served an NTO. This potential threat underscores the importance of meticulous financial oversight and clear communication throughout the construction process.

Protecting Against Liens

There are proactive steps you can take to protect your property from unwanted liens:

  • Lien Releases: Upon payment, request written lien releases or waivers from each entity that has provided labor, services, or materials. Ensure you obtain these from direct contractors as well as subcontractors.
  • Final Payment Affidavit: Before issuing the final payment, ask your contractor for a final payment affidavit. This document should declare that all subcontractors have been paid; if not, it must list those who haven’t.
  • Conditional Payments: Consider using conditional payments that only go through once the contractor provides proof of payment to subcontractors and suppliers.

Navigating a Threatened Lien

Discovering that your property might be subjected to a lien can be a distressing experience. It’s essential to act swiftly and decisively. Start by gathering all pertinent information about the claimed unpaid work or supplies. Verify the accuracy of the lien amount and whether the services or materials were indeed used for your property.

Seek Professional Guidance

Interpreting and adhering to construction lien laws can be intricate, and overlooking a key detail can result in significant financial consequences. Engaging a legal professional experienced in construction law can provide you with the necessary guidance to navigate this complex field effectively. An attorney can help you:

  • Understand your rights and obligations under Florida’s lien law.
  • Ensure that lien releases and other protective measures are properly executed.
  • Defend your property rights in case of a lien placement.
  • Offer legal representation if the dispute escalates to litigation.


Florida’s construction lien law is in place to ensure that those who add value to your property receive their due compensation. While it serves an important protective function for contractors, it also creates responsibilities for property owners. By ensuring diligent payment tracking, collecting lien waivers, and possibly consulting with a legal expert, you can significantly minimize the risk of a lien on your property. It’s about securing your investment as you transform and enhance your property. Remember, when it comes to construction liens, being proactive is the key to protection.