Florida Mechanic's Lien Claimants Must Strictly Comply with Fla. Stat. § 713.21(4)

A decision last week exemplified a Florida court's severe application of this statute to mechanic's liens.

While each state permits contractors or suppliers to assert mechanic’s liens against a project for unpaid work, each state has also created due process rights for property owners to challenge the lien. In Florida, that due process right is established in Fla. Stat. § 713.21(4), which permits any interested party to force the mechanic’s lien claimant to file suit within 20 days or show cause why it cannot do so. A mechanic’s lien claimant who fails to satisfy one of these two requirements loses its mechanic’s lien forever.

In KA Properties, LLC v. USA Constr., Inc., 2010 WL 2132024 (Fla. App. 5 Dist. May 28, 2010), in response to a summons issued under Fla. Stat. § 713.21(4), the lien claimant filed a response asserting that the lien was valid and filed an action on the lien nine days after the deadline ran. In strictly construing the statute, the court held that the lienor failed to show why the action could not have proceeded in the 20-day window and that the lienor’s commencement of litigation nine days late did not prevent dismissal of the mechanic’s lien. As KA Properties demonstrates, since the requirements of § 713.21(4) are strictly construed, the statute provides a valuable tool for property owners to force the hand of an indolent lien claimant, as any further delay may cost the claimant its mechanic’s lien.

Categories: Legal Updates