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How to Avoid Settlement Delays due to a Mechanic’s Lien

Attorney Matt BalesHow to avoid settlement delays due to a mechanic’s lien

A mechanic’s lien is a common but easily preventable occurrence for many Florida property owners. This type of lien is filed against a property when a contractor fails to pay one of their suppliers, subcontractors or laborers for property improvements.

The mechanics lien is a cloud on the property’s title and can prevent or delay the sale or refinancing of the property until the mechanic’s lien is paid.

Often a mechanic’s lien is discovered long after it’s been filed in the public records, but by taking a few proactive measures in accordance with Florida’s Construction Lien Law, property owners can ensure their properties are protected from the burdens imposed by such mechanic’s liens.

Notice of Commencement

File a Notice of Commencement before beginning any home construction or remodeling project. Record the form with the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county where the property being improved is located. Post a certified copy at the job site, too.

The Notice notes the property owner’s intent to begin improvements, the location of the property, description of the work and the amount of bond (if any). It also identifies the property owner, contractor, surety, lender and other pertinent information.

A property owner who fails to record a Notice of Commencement or incorrect information on the Notice could result in having to pay twice for the same work or materials.

Request a list of all subcontractors and suppliers who have a contract with the contractor to provide services or materials to the property.

Releases of Lien

Prior to making any payment, the property owner should receive a Release of Lien from every supplier, contractor and subcontractor, which covers the materials used and the work performed on the project. The Release of Lien is a written statement that removes the property from the threat of lien.

If the contract requires partial payments be made before the work is completed in full, the get a Partial Release of Lien covering all workers and materials used up to that point in time.

Before final payment, obtain an affidavit from the contractor that specifies all unpaid parties who performed labor or services, or provided materials to the property. Make sure the contractor obtains releases from all of these parties before making final payment.

Notice of Termination of Notice of Commencement

At the end of the project and after the contractor is paid in full and obtained all of the necessary Releases of Lien and affidavits as described above are obtained, file a Notice of Termination of Notice of Commencement with the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county where the property being improved is located.

The information in this article is of a general nature only and is not intended to be relied upon as, nor a substitute for, specific professional advice. No responsibility for the loss occasioned to any purpose acting on or refraining from action as a result of any material in this publication can be accepted.

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Matt E. Bales, Jr., Esq., MBA is a shareholder in the law firm of Bales & Bales, P.A. located in Coral Gables, Florida. Matt focuses his practice in the areas of residential and commercial real estate, property management, banking & finance, corporate, and general civil, commercial and complex litigation in state courts. More information on Mr. Bales and the law practice of Bales & Bales, P.A. may be found at www.balesandbales.com.