- Mechanic’s Liens
Florida statutes provide that the following persons are entitled to have liens on real property: a contractor; a subcontractor; a sub-subcontractor; a laborer; a materialman who contracts with the owner; and a professional lienor such as an architect, interior designer, engineer or surveyor and mapper.
If the lienor does not get paid for the work performed or materials supplied to the real property, he or she may file a claim of lien at any time during the progress of the work, but no later than 90 days after performing the improvements to the real property. The lienor may then have to file an action to foreclose the lien and look toward the sale of the real property to satisfy his or her claim.
A lienor who willfully exaggerates the amount for which the lien was claimed, or willfully and/or with gross negligence, included claims for work not performed, or is not a good faith dispute as to the amount or method of compensation, may be found to have filed a fraudulent lien. The finding of a fraudulent lien can lead to liability for limited punitive damages as well as payment of attorneys fees and cost. Therefore, one must be very careful in calculating and asserting a claim of lien.
In addition, there are also a multitude of services performed by companies that are not necessarily improvements to real property, and therefore do not fall under Florida Mechanics Lien Law. A contractor or company who performs services or sells goods to another is still afforded a legal right to payment for those good and services, even in the absence of an express written contract.
- Unlicensed Contractors
Florida law states that contracts made by unlicensed contractors are unenforceable. Therefore, an unlicensed contractor can not file a valid lien against your real property. In any action filed against a contractor for injuries sustained from the contractor’s negligence, malfeasance or misfeasance, the consumer is entitled to three time the actual compensatory damages sustained in addition to attorney’s fees if the contractor is neither certified as a contractor by the state nor licensed as a contractor pursuant to the laws of the municipality or county within which he or she is conducted business.
- Mortgage Foreclosures
A mortgagee, such as a bank, that has a valid security interest in real property may, upon default of the debt, foreclose its mortgage and seek to have the debt owed satisfied by the sale of the real property. The sale of the property takes place 20 to 35 days after the judgment of foreclosure is entered. The foreclosed upon party may exercise his or her right of redemption by paying off the full amount of the judgment before the filing of the Certificate of Sale or the time specified in the foreclosure judgment.
- Maritime Liens
A person providing necessaries to a vessel on the order of the owner or a person authorized by the owner (1) has a maritime lien on the vessel and (1) may bring a civil action in rem to enforce the lien. See 46 U.S.C.A. § 31342. While Supplemental Rule C provides that a person may also proceed in personam against any person who may be liable, the Courts have held that only an admiralty court acting in rem can foreclose a maritime lien. See Chase Manhattan Financial Services, Inc., v. McMillian, 896 F.2d 452, 456-57 (10th Cir., 1990) (“Only an admiralty court action in rem can foreclose a maritime lien, because admiralty law engages in the fiction that the ship itself is the ‘person’ who committed the offense and is legally responsible for the consequences.”); See also Marlen C. Robb & Son Boatyard & Marina, Inc., v. Vessel Bristol, 893 F.Supp. 526, 537 (E.D.N.C. 1994) (Under the (Maritime Lien) Act, a maritime lien can be enforced only through a civil action in rem.)