What do I do if a mechanic's lien has been placed on my property?

Any big home remodeling project takes a lot of time and effort to complete. For example, if you've been remodeling your Florida vacation home's kitchen, adding high-end cabinets and countertops and new lighting and flooring, you know that often more than one contractor is involved in the process. However, one problem Florida property owners might not expect to face in a project like this is when a mechanic's lien is placed on their property.

What is a mechanic's lien?

A mechanic's lien often comes from a subcontractor, sub-subcontractor or supplier who has not been paid for their work. Homeowners end up in a bind when they already have paid a general contractor for the work, but then the general contractor doesn't pay the subcontractor or supplier. The homeowner is still responsible for ensuring payment in that case.

For most subcontractors or suppliers who didn't contract directly with a property owner, the contractor or supplier has 90 days after the last day of furnishing labor or materials for a project to file a mechanic's lien in Florida. The subcontractor or supplier also must notify a property owner 45 days after working on the project that they have not been paid.

What to do about a mechanic's lien

When filing a mechanic's lien, subcontractors or suppliers must reach a payment agreement with a homeowner within a year. If a homeowner contests the mechanic's lien, that time period shortens to 60 days.

Homeowners often find out that mechanic's liens weren't filed properly. If that's the case, generally the lien can't be enforced. If it can be enforced, the homeowner can file a lawsuit against a general contractor to recover the money the homeowner spent paying a subcontractor.

If you receive notice that a subcontractor or supplier will be filing a mechanic's lien on your property, consult an experienced construction law attorney. An attorney can help you determine if the mechanic's lien was filed properly and within the required timeline or if you should sue your general contractor. 

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