Subdivision Improvements and the Single Claim of Lien
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Operating under Florida’s Construction Lien Law can leave some contractors feeling as if they are negotiating the proverbial “minefield” of the Florida Statutes. One reoccurring question (whether in residential or commercial construction) I routinely address is, “How many construction liens must I record”. That depends on whether you have one or more contracts and are dealing with one or more owners. Consider the following scenario: A subcontractor has performed improvements on one hundred separate lots in a subdivision and does not get paid for the work. How many liens much that subcontractor record? One lien? One hundred liens?
Under Section 713.09, Florida Statutes, a lienor needs only record one construction lien for the improvements on the various lots, parcels and/or tracts of land. The labor, services, and materials for this type of lien must arise under the same direct contract and the owner of the lots, parcels and tracts of land must be the same person or entity. For example, if a concrete company poured the slabs for 100 lots in a developing subdivision under one direct contract where all of the lots were owned by the same owner/developer, Section 713.09, Florida Statutes, allows the concrete company to record only one construction lien for all of the labor, services and materials in the event of nonpayment. Practice point, the single construction lien should identify all one hundred lots in the description of the property liened.
To carry the scenario further, if the same concrete company executed another direct contract to pour driveways, then the concrete company would have to file a separate construction lien for the work on the driveways. Even though the improvements actually touch on the job-site, there exist separate direct contracts for the slabs and driveways and, therefore, two liens would be required. The same concrete company may supply materials to be used on one or more improvements in the subdivision. In some cases, the owner of the subdivision will require the materials to be delivered to a place, other than the site of the improvement. Section 713.09 states that delivery of the materials to the place designated is prima facie evidence of delivery to the site of the improvement and incorporation in the improvement. This relieves the concrete company from actually demonstrating that the materials for the subdivision were delivered to each individual lot. (Of course, delivery tickets to each lot would be preferred as the incorporation burden would be rebuttable by the owner).
In Lee v. All Florida Construction Co., 662 So.2d 365 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1995) a contractor was required to record two separate liens on a project for renovation and subsequent repairs as the work, even though done on the same structure, was performed under two separate direct contracts. Additionally, in C.J. Kettles, v. Charter Mortgage Company, 337 So.2d 1012 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1976), a landscaping company made an agreement with a builder for a price per yard for sod and per shrub pricing to be supplied for an undesignated number of lots in a subdivision. The Court held that “any future services in an indefinite amount and duration” was not intended under the “same direct contract” requirement under Florida’s Construction Lien Law and thus the landscaper was not entitled to a blanket lien for the subdivision.
Section 713.09, Florida Statutes, reads as follows:
A lienor is required to record only one claim of lien covering his or her entire demand against the real property when the amount demanded is for labor or services or material furnished for more than one improvement under the same direct contract. The single claim of lien is sufficient even though the improvement is for one or more improvements located on separate lots, parcels, or tracts of land. If materials to be used on one or more improvements on separate lots, parcels, or tracts of land under one direct contract are delivered by a lienor to a place designated by the person with whom the materialman contracted, other than the site of the improvement, the delivery to the place designated is prima facie evidence of delivery to the site of the improvement and incorporation in the improvement. The single claim of lien may be limited to a part of multiple lots, parcels, or tracts of land and their improvements or may cover all of the lots, parcels, or tracts of land and improvements. In each claim of lien under this section, the owner under the direct contract must be the same person for all lots, parcels, or tracts of land against which a single claim of lien is recorded.