Payment Bonds Can Be Conditional Too

Payment Bonds Can Be Conditional Too

Are you furnishing to a private Florida project where a payment bond has been issued? Then you should take a few minutes to review an article we shared this week, The Conditional Payment Bond Trap Facing Florida Subcontractors.

Types of Payment Bonds Available on Private Projects in Florida

First, a primer on the payment bonds available on a private, Florida project:

1 – The owner may require the general contractor to obtain a payment bond. If the payment bond is not properly recorded along with the Notice of Commencement, the payment bond would be a non-statutory payment bond.

2 – A conditional payment bond that is properly recorded along with the Notice of Commencement will be designated as such, and it will include the wording:

(§713.245) This bond only covers claims of subcontractors, sub-subcontractors, suppliers, and laborers to the extent the contractor has been paid for the labor, services, or materials provided by such persons. This bond does not preclude you from serving a notice to owner or filing a claim of lien on this project.

3 – An unconditional payment bond will prevent any liens from attaching to the property if the bond is properly recorded along with the Notice of Commencement. The unconditional bond will not include the conditional wording.

Conditional Payment Bonds Are Precarious

In the above article, author Ryan W. Owen, explains conditional payment bonds and their precarious nature. Owen advises that conditional payment bonds don’t provide the same protections as a standard payment bond.

“Conditional payment bonds do not provide owners or subcontractors with the same protections as standard payment bonds. The surety’s obligation under a conditional bond is only triggered when the owner pays the general contractor and the general contractor fails to pay its subcontractors.”

How can you avoid losing your bond claim rights? As a best practice, always serve the preliminary notice and bond claim upon all parties, and file the mechanic’s lien (when available). And, at the very least, read the terms of the bond!

“Florida subcontractors must carefully examine any bonds attached to a notice of commencement and remember to take all the appropriate steps necessary to protect their lien rights against the project and their claim against the bond when the bond is conditional.”

Owen’s article also includes a chart, which maps rights available if a standard payment bond, conditional payment bond or no bond is issued for a project. Included in the chart is whether a pay-when-paid clause is valid, and notice time frames for 1st and 2nd tier subcontractors and material suppliers.

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