If you are a design professional (architect, landscape architect, interior designer, engineer, surveyor, or mapper) you have construction lien rights in the event you are not paid. This does not mean your lien rights are absolute so it is important to understand the circumstances which allow you to record a construction lien on a project. These circumstances are contained in Florida Statute s. 713.03:
(1) Any person who performs services as architect, landscape architect, interior designer, engineer, or surveyor and mapper, subject to compliance with and the limitations imposed by this part, has a lien on the real property improved for any money that is owing to him or her for his or her services used in connection with improving the real property or for his or her services in supervising any portion of the work of improving the real property, rendered in accordance with his or her contract and with the direct contract.
(2) Any architect, landscape architect, interior designer, engineer, or surveyor and mapper who has a direct contract and who in the practice of his or her profession shall perform services, by himself or herself or others, in connection with a specific parcel of real property and subject to said compliances and limitations, shall have a lien upon such real property for the money owing to him or her for his or her professional services, regardless of whether such real property is actually improved.
The first circumstance pertains to design professionals that do NOT have a direct contract with the owner of the property. In this circumstance, you have lien rights for your services “used in connection with improving the real property” or your services “in supervising any portion of the work of improving the real property” that you perform under your contract and with the direct contract, presumably between the owner and your client. The important, operative word in this circumstance involves improving the real property.
The second circumstance pertains to design professionals hired directly by the owner. In this circumstance, you have broader lien rights as you have lien rights for your services “regardless of whether such real property is actually improved.” Hence, improving the real property is of no moment.
A design professional does not need to serve any preliminary notice (such as a notice to owner) in order to preserve their lien rights. However, a design professional still needs to record a construction lien within 90 days from their final furnishing date.
A construction lien from a design professional is less common than a lien from a contractor, subcontractor, or supplier. Nonetheless, design professionals do have construction lien rights that an owner should be cognizant of and a design professional should understand in furtherance of best ensuring payment.
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