Who gets greatest protection under Florida lien law?

Sometimes those performing work on a job site don’t easily fall into the category of a subcontractor or materialman. For example, a laborer, generally defined as any person other than an architect, landscape architect, engineer, surveyor and mapper, is someone who, under a properly authorized contract, personally performs on the site of the improvement labor or services which benefit the real property; he is not one who furnishes materials or labor service of others.

A laborer is generally extended the greatest protection under Florida lien law while having to comply with the least amount of statutory prerequisites to enforce a lien. As an example, a laborer need not serve a notice to owner to perfect his or her lien. The rationale for exempting laborers from certain notice requirements is that an individual laborer will not work long without pay and consequently will not have a large claim unknown to the owner or general contractor.

A labor pool, however, is not a laborer. An employer, on behalf of its employees, cannot file and foreclose a mechanic’s lien as a laborer, where the employer provides the labor services of individuals with whom it contracts. Florida law clearly distinguishes between those who personally perform work and those who merely furnish persons to do the work. A business entity does not come within the general classes included in the definition of laborer.For all practical purposes, a labor pool or temporary labor supply firm is a subcontractor or a sub-subcontractor and as such must comply with all of the notice requirements of that class of lienor.

When it comes to construction liens, don’t find yourself in deep water without a life line. Knowing the ins and outs of this complex area of the law can allow you to swim ahead of the pack, securing your work and obtaining payments due.

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