Significant Updates to Florida’s Lien Law from House Bill 331
This past week Governor DeSantis signed House Bill 331, which included many changes to Florida’s Construction Lien law. The changes include new definitions, clarifications of time period calculations, creating new sections, revising the extent of certain liens, revising requirements for a notice of termination, revising responsibilities of the clerk of court, and providing for attorney’s fees in some instances. The law goes into effect on October 01, 2023. Below is the highlight of these changes by section.
Florida Statute § 713.01 contains the definitions applicable to the lien law. The underlined portions of definitions below are highlights of the definitions that were updated pursuant to the new law.
- The definition of “Contractor” is updated to include construction management, by adding the following language: The term also includes a licensed general contractor or building contractor, as those terms are defined in s. 489.105(3)(a) and (b), respectively, who provides 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.
- “Finance charge” means a contractually specified additional amount to be paid by the obligor on any balance that remains unpaid by the due date set forth in the credit agreement or other contract.
The bill also created Florida Statute § 713.011 providing for the computation of time when certain time periods fall on specified days or during an emergency.
- (1) In computing any time period under this part, if the last day of the time period is a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday specified in s. 110.117(1), or any day observed as a holiday by the clerk’s office or designated as a holiday by the chief judge of the circuit, the time period is extended to the end of the next business day.
- (2) If the clerk’s office is closed in response to an emergency for 1 or more days so that a person may not present a document for recording or an action for filing in person to the clerk’s staff, the time period for recording a document or filing an action with the clerk’s office under this part is tolled. When the clerk’s office reopens, the time period is extended by the number of days the clerk’s office was closed.
One of the more significant changes from the bill relates to mobile homes in Florida Statute § 713.10. Subsection 3 is replaced with new subsection 4 as shown below.
- The lessee is a mobile home owner who is leasing a mobile home lot in a mobile home park from the lessor.
- The interest of the lessor is not subject to liens for improvements made by the lessee when the lessee is a mobile home owner who is leasing a mobile home lot in a mobile home park from the lessor.
Florida Statute § 713.132 governs the termination rules for notice of commencements. Below is a list of the some of the highlights of the modifications, additions, and deletions.
- (3) An owner may not record a notice of termination at any time after except after completion of construction, or after construction ceases before completion and all lienors have been paid in full or pro rata in accordance with s. 713.06(4).
- (5)(4) A notice of termination must be served on each lienor who has a direct contract with the owner and on each lienor who has timely and properly served a notice to owner in accordance with this part before the recording of the notice of termination. A notice of termination must be recorded in the official records of the county in which the improvement is located. 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 is effective to terminate the notice of commencement at the later of 30 days after recording of the notice of termination or a later the date stated in the notice of termination as the date on which the notice of commencement is terminated. However, if a lienor who began work under the notice of commencement before its termination lacks a direct contract with the owner and timely serves his or her notice to owner after the notice of termination has been recorded, the owner must serve a copy of the notice of termination upon such lienor, and the termination of the notice of commencement as to that lienor is effective 30 days after service of the notice of termination, if the notice of termination has been served pursuant to paragraph (1)(f) on the contractor and on each lienor who has a direct contract with the owner or who has served a notice to owner.
Florida Statute § 713.21 is updated to authorize the full or partial release of a lien under specified conditions, added language indicate that the “satisfaction or release must include the lienor’s notarized signature and set forth the official records’ reference number and recording date affixed by the recording office on the subject lien,” and the updated section clarifies that the summons in an action to discharge a lien must state that cause must be shown within 20 days after receipt of the show cause summons issued.
In the section for this statute applicable to notices of contest of liens, the following language is added to require the clerk’s office to comply with Florida Statute § 713.18, when serving a copy of the recorded notice of contest:
- After the clerk records the notice with the certificate of service, the clerk shall serve, in accordance with s. 713.18, a copy of such recorded notice on the lienor and the owner or the owner’s attorney.
This section is revised to change the amount the clerk’s office is required to use when calculating the value of the bond to account for attorney’s fees, now $5,000 as opposed to $1000 or 25% of the value of the lien. This section also requires the clerk’s office to serve a copy of the transfer certificate and a copy of the deposit or bond supporting the transfer on the lienor.
Florida Statute § 713.29 is amended to clarify that attorneys fees are awardable to the prevailing party in an action to enforce a lien that has been transferred to another security.