The purpose of construction lien law is to prevent the unjust enrichment of real property owners at the expense of those who provide labor, services, and/or materials for the improvement of real property by providing those who improve the real property with a right to assert a claim against the real property to secure payment for the labor, services, and/or materials provided in improving the real property. The law relating to construction liens (formerly known as “mechanic’s liens”) was created by the Florida Legislature in 1887 and allows certain defined classes of those who improve the real property, under certain carefully defined conditions, to have the right to force the real property to be sold at a judicial sale to obtain payment. These rights exist for those who have a contract directly with the owner of the real property (i.e., those in privity of contract with the owner) as well as for certain subcontractors and suppliers who are further down the chain of contracts on the project and do not have a direct contract with the owner.
Construction lien law provides these extraordinary remedies because the construction industry differs from other industries in that large amounts of credit are required for a longer period of time, and, often, construction industry participants commit all, or a large amount, of their capital to the construction project. Because these lien rights did not exist under the English Common Law upon which our judicial system is based, the requirements and time limitations imposed by the construction lien statutes are generally followed strictly by the courts and interpreted very narrowly. In order to establish and enforce lien rights, also described as “perfecting lien rights,” as well as to protect property from the imposition of a lien, it is important to fully understand the specific requirements of the applicable statutes as only a few subsections of the very detailed statutes allow liens to still be enforced when there are errors in compliance with the statutes.