Do you need a construction litigation lawyer to help enforce your Claim of Lien?
If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it 100 times. Subcontractors, material suppliers, and even contractors who have recorded liens, wait too long to file suit to enforce their liens, neglect to contact a construction dispute lawyer, and lose their lien rights forever. They will record their Claim of Lien, and then sit back and do nothing, hoping that the Claim of Lien by itself will force the Owner to eventually make a payment. That is a strategy that is destined to fail.
As an experienced construction law firm, once we record a Claim of Lien for a subcontractor or material supplier client, we advise our client not to wait too long before trying to enforce their lien by the filing of a lawsuit. However, subcontractors will often delay or hold off in filing a lawsuit to enforce their lien because they are in discussions with the contractor or the owner about getting paid and because there are legal fees involved in filing that lawsuit that the client is usually looking to avoid. But you need to understand that no amount of negotiations can revive your lost lien rights if you wait too long to file that construction lawsuit.
Florida law requires that a commercial construction lawsuit to foreclose a claim of lien must be filed within one year from the date it is recorded. If you or your construction lien lawyer do not file suit to enforce that lien within that one-year period of time, your lien automatically expires and is no longer a lien on the property. At that point, it becomes unenforceable. Owners, especially savvy Owners, will try to take advantage of an unrepresented lienor and drag out payment discussions until this one-year period expires.
We have also seen subcontractors enter into agreements where they agree to hold off on enforcing their Claim of Lien in exchange for a written agreement by the Owner consenting to extend the one-year deadline; however, there is absolutely no authority whatsoever that those agreements are enforceable. Likewise, re-recording a Claim of Lien does not extend your time to file suit to foreclose the lien. That one-year deadline must be treated as if it was written in stone.
So what do you do? Even after recording your Claim of Lien, do not ease off of the Owner in your efforts to get paid. Keep applying constant pressure. Do not wait too long before initiating the Claim of Lien foreclosure process. Under no circumstance should you let your Claim of Lien sit for even close to one year before filing a lawsuit to enforce it. Claims of lien cannot be extended beyond one year without the filing of a construction lien foreclosure lawsuit.
A knowledgeable South Florida construction lien attorney, like Andrew Wyman, can protect your lien rights, help you understand Florida Construction law, and also provide assistance so you get paid and keep your business cash flow positive. Consult a Florida construction law attorney early and often to make sure you do not make a mistake that costs you money.