Construction liens are a big deal. When you have a lien on a project, you have security. If you lose out on your lien by forgetting to send notice, or not following the lien laws for your specific state properly, you lose that leverage. We’re here to take away the complexity and confusion of filing your liens. If you work in Florida and need to know the lien laws, this is the site for you. Here, we break down exactly what the state of Florida requires of you to properly file a valid lien or bond claim.

How to File a Bond Claim in Florida

  • A bond is required for any public project over $200K.
  • For projects under $200K, retainage of 10% must be held from each pay application. 
    • This retainage is held for Subcontracts and Material Suppliers to share pro rata.  
    • You must get certification from all Subcontractors and Material Suppliers that they have been paid before the retainage can be released.
  • The bond must be recorded in the public records of the county where the improvement is located.
  • Place 3* or below must send a preliminary notice to the General Contractor within forty-five (45) days from the time work was first performed and/or material supplied. The preliminary notice should state that they will file a bond claim if they are not paid.
  • The material must be delivered or incorporated.
  • You must send notice of non-payment to the General Contractor and Surety within ninety (90) days of last work performed and/or material supplied.
  • You must file suit to enforce your bond claim within one (1) year of the last time you supplied labor and/or materials.
  • The General Contractor can shorten how long you have to file suit to enforce your bond claim. 
    • If the General Contractor files a notice of contest of your bond claim, you must file suit within sixty (60) days to enforce your bond claim or lose it.
  • Rules are slightly different if you are working on a public transportation system. 

How to File a Lien in Florida

  • Only Place 3* and above Contractors and Material Suppliers have lien rights.
  • Liens are good for one (1) year. 
    • You must file suit to enforce the lien. 
    • This can be shortened if a contest of the lien is filed. At that point, you have sixty (60) days from the notice of contest to enforce your lien.
  • You can recover attorney fees if you must enforce your lien.
  • Work done for general maintenance is not lienable. 
    • The work must be an improvement to the property. 
  • Material Suppliers must prove delivery; you cannot lien for things picked up at the corner. 
  • You can lien for specially fabricated materials, even if not delivered to the project.
  • A professional can have a lien even if the property is not actually improved.
  • When work is done for a tenant, a lien can extend to the whole property depending upon what the lease says.
  • Must be a Florida-licensed Contractor to have lien rights.
  • Florida bases what you have to do for a valid lien on where you are in the construction food chain. 
  • It is always a good idea to send notice to the Lender. Lenders have an obligation to the Owner to make sure lien claimants are paid.
  • Notices should be sent to everyone on the notice of commencement if one has been filed. 
  • A Laborer is someone who provides only labor to the project (no material) for the improvement of the property, and does not hire others; they must file their lien within ninety (90) days of last work and must send the Owner a copy of the lien that is filed within fifteen (15) days of filing the lien. 
  • Place 1* – Any type of residential or multifamily project must include language required by law in their contracts to be able to have lien rights. 
    • You must file the lien within ninety (90) days of final completion. 
    • You must send the owner a copy of the lien that was filed within fifteen (15) days of the lien being filed.  
    • You must send the Contractor a final payment affidavit at least five (5) days before filing suit to enforce the lien. 
  • Place 2* – You must send a notice to Owner within forty-five (45) days of the first work or material supplied. 
    • You must file the lien within ninety (90) days of last work performed or material supplied, or before final payment is made to the contractor, whichever comes first.  
    • You must send the Owner a copy of the lien that was filed within fifteen 15 days of the lien being filed. 
  • Place 3* – You must send a notice to Owner and the Contractors at Place 1 & 2*, and anyone else who is on the owner’s notice of commencement, must be sent within forty-five (45) day of first work performed and final payment to the Place 2* Contractor that hired them, whichever comes first.  
    • The lien must be filed within ninety (90) days of last work and a copy sent to the Owner, and the Place 1 & Place 2* Contractor within fifteen (15) days of filing. 
  • Professionals – Must file their lien within ninety (90) days of last work performed at the jobsite and must send notice of the lien that was filed within fifteen (15) days of the lien being filed. 
  • Lien must be signed by the claimant. 

If you work in Florida, it is essential that you have a grasp on the information above. The best way to protect your pay is by enforcing your lien and bond claim rights, so be sure to do it correctly. If you want to master your Florida Lien Laws, listen to The Quit Getting Screwed Construction Podcast's episode on them! If you want someone else to take care of filing your lien or bond claim, and do it the right way, contact a professional Florida lien attorney who is experienced with construction law. Our sister company, The Cromeens Law Firm, has a lien and collections team ready to take care of it for you. You deserve to be paid for the work you do. Liens are your leverage to make that happen.

*The “places” referenced in the rules above correlate to the Construction Food Chain Chart from Karalynn Cromeens’ book,
Quit Getting Stiffed. The chart can be found here to use when following these lien and bond rules.