I'm in Florida and my neighbor had asked me to remodel his kitchen. I hired a contractor to build the cabinets. I gave him all the cabinet sizes, type of wood and finish. He quoted me between $3500 & 4000 and said he would install them. He said it wouldn't be anymore than $4000. We made a verbal contract, i gave him $2500 down, he signed a contract agreeing to what we discussed and that he would have my cabinets in 3 weeks. He's dragged this on for 12 weeks always making excuses. I told him don't bother coming back and that I will finish. There was no permit used on this job. I paid him another $1000 when he dopped off the cabinet doors. He says I owe him another $2000 and if I dont pay he will put a lien on my friends condo. What do I do? This guy has been a nightmare.
With respect to the written contract, an attorney would have to actually see it-- there may be some way out in the terms and conditions if it was well written. Barring that: When a contractor performs work/improvements on a property that cost more than $2,500, Florida's Construction Lien Law (Florida Statutes Chapter 713) comes into play. Under the statute, it is possible that the contractor could record a lien on your friend's property. If and when that happens, your friend will have to file a notice contesting the lien.
My response to this question is a response to a hypothetical situation based on limited facts. I am not your attorney; you are not my client and we do not have an attorney-client relationship. If you need a lawyer, you should contact one in your area. If you would like to talk with me about your case, you can call my office.
The contractor you hired to build / install the cabinets; I will call him "lienor" because he is the person who may be filing a lien. Yes, he can file a lien. A more important question for you and the owner is = can you defeat the lien?
Here is your fastest, cheapest possibility on your facts: Did lienor serve on the owner a "Notice to Owner" form sometime during his first 45 days working on this job? If the answer is NO, that will operate to defeat the lien. If you / owner defeat the lien, then you may obtain a judgment which makes lienor pay the attorneys fees and costs of the Owner - or other interested party who defeats the lien. If he files the lien you should consult with a construction attorney immediately. You can look this up in Florida Statutes Section 713.001 - 713.37.
Don's answer is on point. Furthermore, due to the fact that no permit was involved in this job, it is also highly likely that there is no notice of commencement recorded in the public records. This document, among other things, provides lienors with the owner's contact information. Therefore, it is similarly unlikely that the lienor properly served a notice to owner. The lienor would be required to serve a notice to owner upon the owner within 45 days of first starting its work (assuming the cabinets are specially fabricated) via certified mail, return receipt requested. Unless the lienor timely served its notice to owner, the lienor's claim of lien will not survive in litigation.
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