If you have decided to file a mechanics lien in the Sunshine State, this step-by-step guide (starting in the next paragraph, below) will tell you how. Please proceed with caution and keep in mind that there may be preliminary notice and timing requirements that must be met prior to filing a valid Florida mechanics lien, and that it can be complicated and time-consuming to file a mechanics lien by yourself. But, once you’re ready to file, just follow the steps below to start the lien process.
Pressed for time?
If you’re reading this, you’re probably in the construction business, so of course you’re pressed for time! If you want to read this helpful information later, please follow the link to download this information for free from zlien.
Make Sure Your Mechanics Lien Has the Required Information
Florida has specific requirements that govern the information that must be included on the lien form. The failure to include the required information, including a very specific word-for-word warning, can result in an invalid lien. Additionally, Florida mechanics liens are required to be notarized, so if you are preparing your lien document yourself remember that once it is complete, you must wait to sign until your signature on the document can be notarized. A Florida mechanics lien must contain the following information:
1) The name of the lienor and the address where notices or process under this part may be served on the lienor.
2) The name of the person with whom the lienor contracted or by whom she or he was employed.
3) The labor, services, or materials furnished and the contract price or value thereof. Materials specially fabricated at a place other than the site of the improvement for incorporation in the improvement but not so incorporated and the contract price or value thereof shall be separately stated in the claim of lien.
4) A description of the real property (subject to the lien, where the project occurred) sufficient for identification.
5) The name of the owner of the property where the project occurred.
6) The date of first furnishing and of last furnishing of labor or service or materials by lienor.
7) The amount unpaid the lienor for such labor or services or materials and for unpaid finance charges due under the lienor’s contract.
8) If the lienor did not contract directly with the property owner, the date and method of service of the notice to owner; and, if the lienor did not contract with the direct contractor or a subcontractor, the date and method of service of the copy of the notice on the direct contractor or subcontractor.
Further, the lien must include the following specific warning, word-for-word:
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.
A Florida lien is formally sufficient if, in addition to the above warning statement, it is prepared by the following template:
State of ____
County of ____
Before me, the undersigned notary public, personally appeared ____, who was duly sworn and says that she or he is (the lienor herein) (the agent of the lienor herein ____), whose address is ____; and that in accordance with a contract with ____, lienor furnished labor, services, or materials consisting of ____ on the following described real property in ____ County, Florida: (Legal description of real property)
owned by ____ of a total value of $____, of which there remains unpaid $____, and furnished the first of the items on ____, (year) , and the last of the items on ____, (year) ; and (if the lien is claimed by one not in privity with the owner) that the lienor served her or his notice to owner on ____, (year) , by ____; and (if required) that the lienor served copies of the notice on the contractor on ____, (year) , by ____ and on the subcontractor, ____, on ____, (year) , by ____. (Signature)
Sworn to (or affirmed) and subscribed before me this ____ day of ____, (year) , by (name of person making statement) .
(Signature of Notary Public – State of Florida) (Print, Type, or Stamp Commissioned Name of Notary Public)
Personally Known ____ OR Produced Identification ____ (check one)
Type of Identification Produced____________
How to File a Florida Mechanics Lien
Now it’s time to get the lien filed.
- Prepare lien form, and have a notary acknowledge the signature of a party (which can be an agent) acquainted with the facts stated therein. This MUST be notarized in order to be filed.
- Send the original notarized copy to the clerk’s office in the county in which the project occurred. NOTE, if the property subject to the lien is situated in two or more counties, the claim of lien shall be recorded in the clerk’s office in each of such counties (this is rare).
– The original copy delivered to the county clerk’s office for recordation may be delivered via mail or FedEx, personally “walked in” to be recorded, or in most Florida counties it may be E-recorded.
– If you have chosen to e-record, the filing and processing fees will be assessed prior through the e-recording portal you have chosen prior to recordation.
– If you have decided to personally deliver the lien for recording, or if you mail/FedEx the lien to the appropriate county, the recording fees must be included with the lien – or it may be rejected. Counties often reject liens for improper fees, which can result in more time passing and, potentially, a missed deadline. Recording fees can be determined by calling the county recorder, checking on the clerks office’s website, or asking in person if you physically bring the lien for filing. Generally, the fees are set at one amount for the first page with an additional, smaller, amount for each additional page.
- Once the document is recorded, a stamped copy of the recorded lien can be obtained for your records.
– Note that if you mailed your lien to the county for recording, or sent it via a courier, along with including a) the proper fees for recording with the document; you will need to include b) a self-addressed stamped envelope with return instructions if you wish to receive a copy of the recorded lien for your records.
- Florida law requires that the Claim of Lien be served on the owner of the liened property either prior to the recording of the lien or within 15 days of its recording. Failure to do so will render the lien voidable to the extent that the failure is shown to be prejudicial to any person entitled to rely on such service. The notice may be served by personal delivery, by sending by registered or certified mail return receipt requested, by sending second-day delivery with evidence of delivery, or if none of those can be accomplished, by posting on the premises.
– NOTE that failure to serve the lien renders the lien voidable to the extent the failure was prejudicial to the owner.
Click the button below to download a free copy of the Florida Mechanics Lien Guide:
Congratulations! Once the lien document has been both filed and served on the owner – you have a mechanics lien encumbering the property and are likely closer to getting paid. This is a powerful tool to get paid – but remember that just because a lien is recorded it doesn’t mean that it cannot be challenged. A lien can be recorded even if it is not valid for some reason, and a property owner (or their attorney) may make a claim that it is improper and needs to be removed (whether the lien claim is valid or not). FURTHER, there can be penalties for filing a frivolous lien or a lien known to be invalid for some other reason. This is not only unfair and improper, it can result in penalties and liability – a lien claimant should take great care in only filing liens when it is necessary and proper to do so.
Finally, a Florida mechanics lien stays effective for 1 year from the date on which it was recorded – after that date the lien expires, and it cannot be extended.
Recording a mechanics lien can be a powerful tool in making sure you are paid what you earned. The How-To guide above can empower you to take that step when and if it becomes necessary, and make sure you are treated fairly.