RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION – SHOULD BOTH HUSBAND & WIFE SIGN THE CONTRACT?

UnknownIt is always good practice for residential contractors to get both husband and wife to sign the residential construction contract.   But, even if only one spouse signs the contract, Florida’s Lien Law doesn’t really punish the contractor when its comes to construction liens.

 

Florida Statute s. 713.12 provides:

 

When the contract for improving real property is made with a husband or wife who is not separated and living apart from his or her spouse and the property is owned by the other or by both, the spouse who contracts shall be deemed to be the agent of the other to the extent of subjecting the right, title, or interest of the other in said property to liens under this part unless such other shall, within 10 days after learning of such contract, give the contractor and record in the clerk’s office, notice of his or her objection thereto.

 

In other words, one spouse is deemed the agent of the other spouse when it comes to subjecting the other to construction liens.  This makes sense because generally when one spouse signs a contract for construction at his/her property, the other spouse has knowledge and is on board of the construction project.   But, assuming the other spouse wasn’t aware, Florida’s Lien Law allows that spouse to provide the contractor an objection to the contract and record that objection in the public records in order for any construction lien not to impact that spouse’s interest in the property.

 

However, the statute only applies to real property and doesn’t apply to personal liability relating to the non-signing spouse.  See Mullne v. Sea-Tech Const. Inc., 84 So.3d 1247, 1249 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012); Meadows Southern Const. Co. v. Pezzaniti, 108 So.2d 499, 502 (Fla. 2d DCA 1959).  This is why it is good practice for the contractor to get both spouses so sign the contract because while the contractor may be able to lien the non-signing spouse’s interest, that will be about it because it will not be able to impose personal liability against the non-signing spouse.

 

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

 

 

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