Changes to Florida’s Lien and Bond Claim Laws

As of 10/01/2023, Changes Are in Effect for Florida’s Mechanic’s Lien and Bond Claim Laws

After several amendments and readings, Florida passed House Bill 331 (effective 10/01/2023) which revised mechanic’s lien and bond laws; including provisions relating to the definition of a contractor, when notices must be served, notarizing forms, and more.

Highlights from Florida House Bill 331

Florida House Bill 331 was introduced in January 2023. This bill was sponsored by the Regulatory Reform & Economic Development Subcommittee, the Civil Justice Subcommittee, and Tobin Rogers Overdorf (R-85). Upon review of the introduced bill, the Regulatory Reform & Economic Development Subcommittee made this comment regarding the direct economic impact on private sector:

“The bill may cause more subcontractors, laborers, and material suppliers to receive compensation for the labor, services, or materials they supply for construction projects, which may have a positive indeterminate impact on the private sector. However, the bill may have a negative indeterminate impact on the private sector by making it costlier to transfer a lien to a payment bond, and an indeterminate impact on the private sector by eliminating and replacing certain alternative forms of security that a contractor working on public project may file in lieu of a payment bond.”

Here are some highlights of the changes.

  • Definition of “Contractor” (713.01): The term “contractor” now includes those who provide construction management services, “…which include scheduling and coordinating preconstruction and construction phases for the construction project, or who provides program management services, which include schedule control, cost control, and coordinating the provision or procurement of planning, design, and construction for the construction project.”
  • Notice of Commencement (NOC) (713.13): The person signing the NOC may use an online notary and the NOC must be filed for contracts greater than $5,000 (previously $2,500).
  • Notice of Termination of Notice of Commencement (NOT) (713.132): The owner must serve a copy of the NOT upon “…each lienor who has a direct contract with the owner and on each lienor who has timely and properly served a notice to owner… If properly served before recording in accordance with this subsection, the notice of termination terminates the period of effectiveness of the notice of commencement 30 days after the notice of termination is recorded in the official records.”
  • Computation of Time (713.011): In the event a deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline will roll to the following business day. And, if the clerk’s office is closed in response to an emergency, deadlines are tolled by the number of days the clerk’s office is closed. For example, if there were a catastrophic event and the clerk’s office was closed for 4 days, those 4 days do not count against the calculation of your deadline.
  • Manner of Serving Documents (713.18): Documents must be served “(a) By hand delivery to the person to be served… (b) By common carrier delivery service or by registered, Global Express Guaranteed, or certified mail to the person to be served, with postage or shipping paid by the sender and with evidence of delivery, which may be in an electronic format. (c) By posting on the site of the improvement if service as provided by paragraph (a) or paragraph (b) cannot be accomplished.” This section also clarifies the Notice to Owner is effective as of the date of mailing, if the notice is mailed within 40 days after the date the lienor first furnishes labor, services, or materials.
  • Release of Lien (713.21): A release of lien must include the lienor’s notarized signature, the official record’s reference number, and the recording date of the lien.
  • Notices of Nonpayment / Bond Claim (713.23): the notice should be served upon contractor and a “copy of the notice of nonpayment upon the surety.”

Mechanic’s Lien and Bond Claim Rights in Florida

From The National Lien Digest©, here’s a refresher on the key steps to securing mechanic’s lien and bond claim rights on Florida projects.

Private Projects | Mechanic’s Lien

  • Notice: You should serve the preliminary notice within 45 days from first furnishing (the date you begin supplying materials or labor to the project). If you are supplying specially fabricated materials, you should serve the notice prior to or within 45 days from the date fabrication begins. (**The preliminary notice must be received within the 45-day period!)
  • Mechanic’s Lien: You should file your lien within 90 days of your last furnishing (the date you last supplied materials or labor to the project) and serve a copy of the lien to the owner within 15 days of filing the lien.
  • Suit: In the unlikely event you must foreclose your lien, you should do so within 1 year of the date you filed the lien.

Private Projects | Bond Claim

Yes, there’s specific statute for payment bonds on private projects!

  • Notice: You should serve the preliminary notice within 45 days of first furnishing and the notice must be received by the deadline. (Just like you would for mechanic’s lien rights.)
  • Bond Claim aka Notice of Non-Payment: Serve the bond claim within 90 days from last furnishing.
  • Suit: You should file suit to enforce your bond claim within 1 year from your last furnishing.

Public Projects

  • Notice: Yes, you guessed it – just like private projects, you should serve the preliminary notice within 45 days of first furnishing and the notice must be received by the deadline.
  • Bond Claim aka Notice of Non-Payment: Serve the bond claim after 45 days from first furnishing, but within 90 days from last furnishing.
  • Suit: You should file suit to enforce your bond claim within 1 year from your last furnishing.

NCS Credit’s Experts Are Here for You

Florida is a stickler when it comes to following its laws to the letter. Don’t risk losing your security – let our experts help you with your preliminary notices, mechanic’s liens, bond claims, and suit filings. Contact us today!

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