To minimize the spread of Covid-19, commonly known as Coronavirus, the public has been encouraged to avoid gathering in large groups and practice social distancing by avoiding contact with persons not necessary to day-to-day life. In carrying out the goal to minimize the spread of Covid-19, many government-run facilities have closed to the public and businesses have been dealing with having their personnel work from home. This, in turn, has disrupted the accepted patterns of doing business for the foreseeable future.
While adapting to the current state of affairs, it is important to remember that Florida law related to securing lien rights and securing the right to make claims on bonds have always been strictly construed. Assuring that you as a laborer, supplier, subcontractor, or subcontractor can maximize collection on your open accounts will help you navigate through the economic uncertainty being spread by Covid-19. So what should you know?
Notice to Owners / Contractors:
Neither the closure of businesses, the closure of project-sites, nor stop-work directives will generally toll the time you have to serve a notice to owner / contractor. It is important that your notice to owner / contractor be served on the necessary parties within 45-days of the first date you furnished labor, services, materials, or rental equipment to the project.
Calculating your last date of work:
In addition to needing to understand what counts as last date of work within the purview of Florida construction law, it is important to recognize that Covid-19 may cause your last date of work to come sooner rather than later due to the indefinite interruption of construction projects. This calculation can be especially tricky if you are a rental equipment company whose equipment remained on a project site, but is not in-use during the pandemic. To take a conservative approach at securing lien and bond rights, you should calculate your last date of work from the last date you performed work, from the last date you delivered materials to the project, or the last date your equipment was available for use prior to the project site closing. The anticipation of future work on the same project should not cause you to forego filing a lien or bond claim if you are approaching 90 days from your last date of work.
Liens need to be recorded in the official records of the county where the project is located. One of the issues with which we are now faced because of the virus is that several county recorder’s offices are closed to the public and the only available means of recording documents is via online submission. For that reason, you should consider submitting all liens for recording well in advance of the 90th day from your last date of work so as to allow 14+ days for the electronic submission to be recorded. The fact that you are unable to access the county recorder’s office in person may not extend your deadline to record a lien.
Notices of Nonpayment on Bonded Projects:
The closure of businesses will not serve to toll the time in which you have to serve a notice of nonpayment. Even if you know the parties on whom you are serving a notice of nonpayment have temporarily closed their offices, you should still proceed with serving all necessary parties with a notice of nonpayment on or before 90 days from your last date of work.
Learn More About COVID-19’s Effect on Deadlines:
The virus has brought an amount of uncertainty to deadlines we have taken for granted in the past. Better to err on the side of caution in your filings and get those documents in way before their deadlines.
SAMPLE NOTICE OF DELAY
John Q. Public
3454 Green Street, Suite 300
Catalina Island, FL 86753-09
RE: Project No.: TDO-09876 Catalina Wine Mixer Building
Dear Mr. Public:
Pursuant to the express terms of the above-referenced Contract, this letter shall serve as Notice of a delay in the above-referenced project. The Governor of Puerto Rico, Hon. Wanda Vázquez Garced, issued an Executive Order intended to combat the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and control the risk of contagion in Puerto Rico. The Order includes several important quarantine and social distancing measures aimed at protecting the health and welfare of Puerto Rican citizens, including implementation of a curfew and the shutdown of non-essential commercial activity.
The Order closed government operations, as well as all commercial activity in Puerto Rico, with the exception of essential government services or private establishments engaged in the retail sale of food through the “drive-thru”, “carry-out” or delivery model, including prepared foods or wholesale, medicines or medical equipment, pharmacies, supermarkets, gas stations, banking or financial institutions, nursing homes, or those related the distribution chains of food, medicines, medical items or fuel.
The scheduled work that cannot be performed falls along the critical path of our work, and our inability to perform work as scheduled and sequenced will necessarily affect completion of the project. We understand that access will be impaired for at least the next ten (10) days, however, the exact number of days is not known at this time. When we have additional information and full knowledge of the extent of the delay, we will submit a request for time extension and additional compensation relating to the disruption, rescheduling, acceleration, overtime, overmanning, stacking of trades, dilution of supervision, and any other impact costs as well as extended overhead and equipment costs for this delay.
Be advised that we remain committed to efficiently minimizing costs and the necessary contract time extension. Please feel free to contact us at any time, if you have any questions or if we can be of any assistance in resolving this issue.
Contractor B. Ware,
Prestige Worldwide Construction Corp.