Brian A. Wolf | Smith Currie & Hancock
Under Florida law, a claim of lien must be recorded in the real property records within 90 days of the claimant’s last date of work. Many contractors and subcontractors wait as long as possible before recording a claim of lien to exhaust efforts to obtain payment without recording a lien. During the COVID-19 pandemic, waiting to record a lien has created a real problem since county clerk offices charged with recording claims of lien were forced to limit access and reduced staff. Many contractors delivered their claims of lien on time for recording electronically, but the clerk’s offices did not officially record the claims of lien until days or even weeks later. In many cases, the county clerks recorded the claims of lien after the 90-day deadline.
A new decision by a Florida Appellate Court, Phillips v. Pritchett Trucking, No. 1D20-2068, Fla. 1st DCA (Oct. 6 2021), provides contractors and subcontractors with relief when they deliver a claim of lien to the clerk’s office and pay their recording fee prior to the expiration of the 90-day deadline. The Court determined as a matter of law that a claim of lien must be recorded by the clerk’s office on the date the clerk received the lien for recording with the recording fee. The Court reasoned that the clerks are required as a matter of law to record a claim of lien immediately upon receipt of payment. As a result, all county clerk offices will be required to record claims of lien on the date they receive both the lien and payment for recording.