Home repairs and renovations can be a major headache for homeowners. To make matters worse, you could wind up paying more than should or even losing your property if a supplier or subcontractor involved in the work places a lien against your home.
This is a construction lien, or mechanic's lien. In accordance with Florida laws, it allows parties who have performed a service or supplied work for an improved property to place a lien against the house if they are not paid. This can be extremely frightening and upsetting, especially if you already paid a general contractor but he or she failed to pay the subcontractor or supplier. However, there are steps you can take to resolve these liens.
- You can pay again. Depending on the outstanding balance owed, it may be easiest to pay a second time, but directly to the party with a claim against your property.
- You can challenge the claim. If you can show that a lien is invalid because it was not filed properly or that the work was not done, then the lien can be removed.
- You can sue the general contractor to collect financial damages.
While these options can help you keep your home, none of them is as appealing as avoiding liens in the first place. You can do this in a few different ways.
- Obtain a written release from contractors, subcontractors and suppliers when you pay the contractor.
- Pay every subcontractor and supplier separately.
- Write joint checks that require endorsement by both the contractor and the supplier or subcontractor in order to be cashed.
- Collect a receipt from the contractor and follow up with suppliers and subcontractors to verify payment.
These steps can protect you from the financial penalties and legal repercussions of a mechanic's lien.
If you have any questions or concerns about avoiding, responding to or clearing a construction lien, then it is wise to act fast and discuss your legal options with an attorney. The clock is ticking and your house could be at stake.