If a construction lien is recorded against real property, the lien can be transferred to a lien transfer bond. This transfers the security or collateral of the construction lien from the real property to the lien transfer bond. The lien transfer bond can be a bond posted by a surety company or it can be cash. This is governed by Florida Statute s. 713.24. The amount of the lien does not dictate the amount of the lien transfer bond. Rather, the lien transfer bond needs to be in the amount of the lien, plus interest on that amount for three years, plus $1,000 or 25% of the amount of the lien (whichever is greater so factor in the 25%) to cover attorney’s fees. Fla. Stat. 713.24(1).
If you are looking to transfer a construction lien to a lien transfer bond, make sure to consult with counsel.
Keep in mind there is a statutory mechanism for a lienor to increase the lien transfer bond to cover attorney’s fees and costs and notice the word “must” in the statute below. Pursuant to Florida Statute s. 713.24(3):
Any party having an interest in such security or the property from which the lien was transferred may at any time, and any number of times, file a complaint in chancery in the circuit court of the county where such security is deposited, or file a motion in a pending action to enforce a lien, for an order to require additional security, reduction of security, change or substitution of sureties, payment of discharge thereof, or any other matter affecting said security. If the court finds that the amount of the deposit or bond in excess of the amount claimed in the claim of lien is insufficient to pay the lienor’s attorney’s fees and court costs incurred in the action to enforce the lien, the court must increase the amount of the cash deposit or lien transfer bond. Nothing in this section shall be construed to vest exclusive jurisdiction in the circuit courts over transfer bond claims for nonpayment of an amount within the monetary jurisdiction of the county courts.
In a recent case, Edmondson v. Tri-County Electrical Services, Inc., 2023 WL 2995420 (Fla. 4th DCA 2023), a lien was transferred to a cash bond by the real property owner. The contractor-lienor moved to have the court increase the amount of the cash security to better cover attorney’s fees and costs accrued in the litigation. The court deferred ruling on the motion. Subsequently, the court had a bench trial and the contractor prevailed. The court entered final judgment in favor of the contractor and reserved ruling on attorney’s fees, interest, and court costs. The court thereafter entered an amended final judgment that included attorney’s fees, interest, and court costs. The court then conducted a hearing to increase the cash bond and granted the contractor’s motion for the cash bond to be increased. The issue was that the court no longer had jurisdiction to require the owner to increase the cash bond:
The action here was not ‘pending’ under section 713.24(3). The general rule is that an action remains pending in the trial court until after a final judgment and such time as an appeal is taken or time for an appeal expires. By the time the trial court had ruled on the motion to increase the bond, the time for an appeal had passed. Therefore, because the matter was no longer pending, the trial court lacked authority to consider the motion.
The trial court was without jurisdiction to grant Contractor’s motion to increase the bond.
Edmondson, supra, at *2 (internal citations omitted).
Here, the contractor should have requested the trial court rule on the deferred motion to increase the cash bond BEFORE the amended final judgment was entered. Or, at a minimum, the contractor should have timely filed a motion for rehearing as to the amended final judgment to address this deferred motion to increase the cash bond. Once the rehearing period expired, “the trial court no longer has jurisdiction over a final judgment.” Edmondson, supra, at *1 (“Contractor did not file a timely motion for rehearing, which would have been the time to raise the bond increase issue.”). Id.
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