Condominium associations hire contractors for capital improvements and repair / restoration work to common elements (painting, balcony/concrete/stucco restoration or repairs, etc.). When a condominium association hires a contractor to provide labor, services, or materials to the condominium, it needs to understand that nonpayment can lead to the contractor liening–recording a construction lien–the condominium units in the condominium.
Florida Statute s. 718.121(2) maintains: “Labor performed on or materials furnished to the common elements are not the basis for a lien on the common elements, but if authorized by the association, the labor or materials are deemed to be performed or furnished with the express consent of each unit owner and may be the basis for the filing of a lien against all condominium parcels in the proportions for which the owners are liable for common expenses.”
Furthermore, s. 718.121(3) maintains: “If a lien against two or more condominium parcels becomes effective, each owner may relieve his or her condominium parcel of the lien by exercising any of the rights of a property owner under Chapter 713 [Florida’s Lien Law], or by payment of the proportionate amount attributable to his or her condominium parcel. Upon payment, the lienor shall release the lien of record for that condominium parcel.”
Now, what does this mean? First, it means that when an association hires a contractor to perform construction-related work, the work is deemed authorized by all unit owners. Second, it means that because all unit owners are deemed to consent to the work, the contractor, if unpaid, can lien each condominium parcel / unit. Third, it means that the lien against each unit will be in the proportionate amount that the owner is liable for common expenses. And, last, it means that each owner has options to discharge the lien from his/her condominium unit- the owner can pay his/her proportionate share to discharge the lien or the owner can transfer the lien to a bond or other security.
If a contractor is not paid by the association and elects to lien and move forward with a lien foreclosure lawsuit, the contractor is not required to sue each individual owner. Rather, the contractor can simply sue the association since the association is deemed to represent the unit owners’ interests. See Trintec Construction, Inc. v. Countryside Village Condominium Association, Inc., 992 So.2d 277 (Fla. 3d DCA 2008) (finding that unpaid roofing contractor that filed lien foreclosure action against association was not required to join all of the unit owners in the action); Four Jay’s Construction, Inc. v. Marina at the Bluffs Condominium Association, Inc., 846 So.2d 555 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003) (finding that balcony contractor properly sued the association in breach of contract action as a class representative on behalf of the owners).
Contractors that are hired by associations need to understand their lien rights in the event of nonpayment. And, associations that hire contractors need to understand their options in the event they are involved in a payment dispute with a contractor so that owners can be best advised.
Please contact David Adelstein at firstname.lastname@example.org or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.