Lien contests can grow into complex disputes between property owners, homeowners’ associations, contractors, or even local governments. These cases can take a significant amount of time, tying up your firm resources and costing your clients money and time.
Mediating lien contests in Florida allows the parties to settle their case as they see fit. Florida lien contest laws are confusing to most of the parties involved, so resolving these disputes quickly benefits each party. Plus, since mediation does not require the filing of a lawsuit, the contractor or builder’s name may be protected, and the homeowner will save legal fees.
A mechanic’s or materialman’s lien must be filed within 90 days of the date that labor or materials were last provided to the owner, and the lienor must serve the lien and foreclose the claim within a year of its recording. However, if the owner files a notice of contest, this deadline is shortened to 60 days after the lien was recorded.
Therefore, scheduling mediation as soon as possible will be beneficial for your clients, whether you represent the owner or the lienor. Scheduling mediation early will also make settling the case more likely. After a lien contest has been allowed to fester for a significant amount of time, positions may harden and the parties may be less likely to settle. Scheduling mediation before the parties have a chance to become too frustrated with one another will increase the likelihood of settlement.
Not all liens will result in a lien contest. There are several other ways to settle a lien claim, including requesting a cancellation because of a defect in the lien, waiting for the lien to expire, and bonding the lien. Discuss each of these options with your client mediator to determine which route may be the most beneficial in your case.