There is an unconditional payment bond for the project but it was not recorded with the Notice of Commencement. Now there are subcontractor construction liens recorded against the property. What do I do? I thought the point of the payment bond was to exempt the real property from subcontractor and supplier liens.
No need to worry! Liens can be transferred to the payment bond even though the payment bond was not recorded with the Notice of Commencement.
The payment bond operates to “secure every lien under the direct contract accruing subsequent to its execution and delivery.” Fla.Stat. s. 713.23(2). Even though the payment bond was not recorded with the Notice of Commencement as required, the owner or contractor can record a Notice of Bond with a copy of the payment bond that will operate to transfer the lien to the security of the payment bond.
To this point, Florida Statute s. 713.13(1)(e) states in relevant part:
[I]f a payment bond under s. 713.23 exists but was not attached at the time of recordation of the notice of commencement, the bond may be used to transfer any recorded lien of a lienor except that of the contractor by the recordation and service of a notice of bond pursuant to s. 713.23(2). The notice requirements of s. 713.23 apply to any claim against the bond; however, the time limits for serving any required notices shall, at the option of the lienor, be calculated from the dates specified in s. 713.23 or the date the notice of bond is served on the lienor.
Stated differently, just because the payment bond was not recorded with the Notice of Commencement does not mean the payment bond is worthless. Rather, it can still be used to transfer construction liens to the security of the bond.
Further, if discovered early enough, and within the effective period of the Notice of Commencement, an Amended Notice of Commencement can be recorded which attaches a copy of the payment bond. The Amended Notice of Commencement needs to be served by the owner “upon the contractor and each lienor who serves notice before or within 30 days after the date the amended notice is recorded.” Fla.Stat. s. 713.13(5)(b). But, the Amended Notice of Commencement can be used to clarify the omission of the payment bond in the original Notice of Commencement.