If you are a contractor and entered into a contract with an owner, then you need to serve the owner with a Contractor’s Final Payment Affidavit at least 5 days before filing a lien foreclosure lawsuit. Fla. Stat. s. 713.06(3)(d). Many times, when I am preparing a lien for a contractor, I like to work with the contractor on the Contractor’s Final Payment Affidavit at the same time as the lien to (for lack of a better phrase) kill two birds with one stone. This way, both the lien and Contractors’ Final Payment Affidavit can be served on the owner at the same time and the contractor has perfected its right to foreclose on the lien when it is ready to do so.
As Florida Statute s. 713.06(3)(d) states:
The contractor shall have no lien or right of action against the owner for labor, services, or materials furnished under the direct contract while in default for not giving the owner the affidavit; however, the negligent inclusion or omission of any information in the affidavit which has not prejudiced the owner does not constitute a default that operates to defeat an otherwise valid lien. The contractor shall execute the affidavit and deliver it to the owner at least 5 days before instituting an action as a prerequisite to the institution of any action to enforce his or her lien under this chapter, even if the final payment has not become due because the contract is terminated for a reason other than completion and regardless of whether the contractor has any lienors working under him or her or not.
Failing to serve the Contractor’s Final Payment Affidavit can be hugely detrimental to an otherwise valid lien. Without serving the Contractor’s Final Payment Affidavit, the lien foreclosure lawsuit is not proper and should be dismissed.
For example, in Puya v. Superior Pools, Spas & Waterfalls, Inc., 902 So.2d 973 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005), a swimming pool contractor hired by a homeowner filed a lien foreclosure lawsuit and received a foreclosure judgment in its favor. There was one huge problem. The contractor never served a Contractor’s Final Payment Affidavit 5 days before filing the lawsuit. The Fourth District reversed the foreclosure judgment because the contractor’s failure to serve the Contractor’s Final Payment Affidavit deprived the contractor of the right to foreclose on the lien: “Where a contractor fails to timely furnish a final payment affidavit, the owner is generally entitled to dismissal of the contractor’s foreclosure lawsuit.” Puya, 902 So.2d at 974. See also Nichols v. Michael D. Eicholtz, Enterprise, 750 So.2d 719 (Fla. 5th DCA 2000) (affirming trial court’s dismissal of lien foreclosure action where contractor failed to properly provide contractor’s final payment affidavit).
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