When it comes to preparing and recording a construction lien, this case is an example of what NOT TO DO! I mean it — this exemplifies what NOT TO DO! It is also a case study of why a party should always work with counsel in preparing a construction lien so that you can avoid the outcome in this case–your lien being deemed fraudulent.
In Witters Contracting Company v. West, 2020 WL 4030845 (Fla. 2d DCA 2020), homeowners hired a contractor to renovate their home under a cost-plus arrangement where the contractor was entitled to a 10% fee on construction costs. The contract also required extra work to be agreed in writing between the owner and contractor.
During construction a dispute arose. The contractor texted the owner that it will cancel the permit and record a $100,000 construction lien if the owner did not pay it $30,000. Shortly thereafter, the contractor’s counsel sent the homeowners a demand for $59,706 with back-up documentation. Less than a week later, the contractor recorded a construction lien for $75,000. The owners initiated a lawsuit against the contractor that included a claim for fraudulent lien. The contractor then amended its construction lien for $87,239.