Construction law is a broad, all-encompassing phrase to describe the legal issues that arise during the contractual and business relationships that underlie agreements for the construction and renovation of a property. Although Florida construction law has its roots in general “contract law” principles, there are many unique legal issues that arise almost exclusively in Florida construction law disputes. Here are some of the most common issues related to Florida construction law:
Issues Involving a Construction Lien
Many issues arising in Florida construction law stem from disputes over construction liens. A construction lien allows unpaid contractors, subcontractors, and materials suppliers to file a lien against real property. This means that a property owner may not own their real property exclusively, free and clear of any clouds to title, if contractors, subcontractors, and materials suppliers are not paid in full pursuant to a given construction project. Notably, Section 713, Florida Statutes, and interpretive case law require that written agreements include notice provisions addressing the potential for a construction lien to be filed against the property.
Issues Involving “No-Lien” Clauses in Construction Agreements
Relatedly, Florida has a unique construction law pertaining to contractual provisions that purport to waive any lien rights. In Florida, courts will not enforce any contractual provisions that waive the right of an unpaid contractor, subcontractor, or materials supplier to file a lien on real property.
Issues Involving Payment to Contractors, Subcontractors, or Materials Suppliers
The timing and conditions surrounding payment to contractors of a construction project are often at issue in Florida construction law disputes. There are generally two types of contractual provisions that are utilized in construction agreements: “pay-when-paid” and “pay-if-paid” clauses, respectively.
If a payment provision in a contract is considered a “pay-when-paid” clause, a general contractor is typically required to pay subcontractors and suppliers within a defined period of time after the property owner pays the general contractor. These provisions confine the burden of payment to subcontractors with the general contractor and they are generally enforced by Florida courts, so long as the general contractor’s refusal to pay is not the result of misconduct by the subcontractor.
“Pay-if-paid” clauses, on the other hand, are strictly construed by courts. These provisions shift the risk of non-payment to subcontractors and suppliers and usually require a condition precedent to be satisfied or completed prior to the release of payment by the general contractor. Because of the harsher potential results for subcontractors, “pay-if-paid” clauses must be precisely worded so as to avoid any ambiguity.
Experiencing Issues Related to a Construction Agreement?
If you are a contractor, subcontractor, or materials supplier, or anyone you know is involved in a construction law dispute, be sure to contact a Fort Lauderdale, Florida construction law attorney to fully understand your rights and obligations pursuant to a construction law contract or project. Construction law lawyers are experienced in understanding Florida’s construction laws and will be able to give crucial advice on all matters related to construction law disputes.
Clayton Trial Lawyers (“CTL”) is a boutique litigation firm based in South Florida firm whose elite attorneys have unique skills, expertise, and experience in Florida’s construction laws. If you or someone you know is involved in a construction law agreement or construction dispute, call CTL to ensure you know and can enforce your legal rights and duties.