Florida Construction Liens: Defining the Last Day that Work Was Performed
A construction lien (also called a ‘contractor’s lien’ or ‘mechanic’s lien’) is a powerful collection debt tool. If a construction company has not been paid for its work or materials, it can place a lien against the property that was created or improved. In placing a construction lien, there are many different legal requirements that must be followed. Notably, a construction lien in Florida must be recorded within 90 days of the lienor’s final furnishing. In other words, contractors must seek a lien within 90 days of the date on which ‘work’ on the property was last performed.
This raises a very important question: how is ‘work’ defined? Could a construction company simply come back to a job site and do another task to extend the deadline to seek a lien? There has been considerable litigation in Florida courts on this issue. At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Miami commercial litigation attorneys have extensive experience handling complex construction law cases. Here, we break down the test that Florida courts use to determine the date on which work was last furnished for the purposes of the state’s construction lien statute.
Defining the 90-Day Window: A Four Part Test
- Performance in Good Faith
In disputes over the last date that work was performed, the first thing Florida courts will examine is whether or not the work was performed in good faith. Any work that was not performed in good faith will not qualify for the purposes of the construction lien statute. This addresses a question we raised early: No, a contractor could not simply perform an additional task in order to extend the construction lien filing deadline. That work would be in bad faith, and thus would not count.
- Within a Reasonable Time
Florida courts also use a general ‘reasonableness’ standard. This element of the test can be somewhat difficult to pin down. What qualifies as reasonable will always depend on the specific circumstances of the case.
- Pursuant to the Terms of the Contract
Ultimately, construction liens must be based, in part, on work that was performed under a valid contract. If a contractor does additional work, and it is not related to the contract in question, then it will not extend the 90-day window to file a construction lien on that particular contract. Though, a separate contract may be implicated.
- Necessary to Complete the Job
Finally, work must actually be necessary to complete the job. If, by all reasonable accounts, a construction job was completed five months ago, there likely nothing that can be done to extend the deadline to file a lien against the property. For the deadline to be extended in Florida, only necessary work qualifies.
Contact Our South Florida Construction Litigation Attorneys Today
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, we have extensive experience handling all aspects of construction lien cases. If you are placing a lien, or if a lien has been placed on your property, do not hesitate to contact us today for free legal guidance. With offices in Miami and West Palm Beach, we serve construction litigation clients throughout the region, including in Homestead, Cutler Bay, Kendall, and Hialeah.