I'm sorry to hear about that. First, it's worth mentioning that it's hard to predict what will be successful and what won't - that could turn on a number of factors. However, I can provide some information that should be helpful! First, it's important to understand the timeframe involved here. When a Florida mechanics lien is filed, the party filing that lien will have 1 year from the date of filing to enforce that mechanics lien (meaning, they have a year file a lawsuit to push the lien claim forward). While that represents the maximum amount of time that can pass before the lien must be enforced - a claimant can enforce their lien well before that 1 year deadline. Thus, many property owners facing lien claims find it a good idea to work with the lien claimant at least enough to prevent the enforcement of the lien. However, a property owner can shorten that timeframe. For one, a property owner can file a Notice of Contest of Lien in order to shorten the time period to a mere 60 days from the date of filing the Notice of Contest. This can have both positive and negative consequences. On one hand, a shorter timeframe could mean that a claimant misses their deadline since they have a shorter period to decide how to proceed. On the other hand, this seriously shortens the amount of time that the parties will have to resolve their issues - and a claimant may just move up their timetable and decide to enforce their lien quickly rather than try and resolve the dispute. It's also worth mentioning that a Notice of Contest will likely not require the help of an attorney. Another option could be to file and serve a summons and complaint for the claimant to show cause on their lien claim - and doing so will limit the time for the lien claimant to enforce their lien to a mere 20 days after the summons and complaint are made. Because this constitutes a court filing, it's likely a good idea to use the help of an attorney - and it might even be required. Regarding the validity of the underlying lien claim
- let's look at a few potential issues that might affect the validity of a lien. First, extraneous amounts not related to construction work - such as, potentially, attorney fees - should not be included in a lien claim. In fact, while those amounts can certainly be recovered in an action to enforce, including extra amounts in a lien claim could even potentially invalidate the lien. Further, where a lien claimant has purposefully filed a lien for an amount exceeding what was agreed to by the parties, the amount of the lien could certainly be called into question. Finally, considering an attempt to make payment has been made, there could be an argument that payment was made and refused on the lien claim, and that the filed lien is baseless on account of payment being made - especially where the lien isn't being removed due to the claimant holding out for amounts in excess of what is owed for their work. With all that being said, there are some things to consider. First, it's worth noting that contesting a lien claim can turn into a hairy ordeal, especially when the other side of the dispute is represented by an attorney. If the lien is enforced, battling a lien enforcement action will almost certainly cost more than a few hundred dollars. Further, filing an action with the court to contest the claim will also result in expenses - plus if the issue continues to go back and forth in the courts, that could cost significant amounts too. Thus - it's important to approach all possible actions with open eyes and understanding as to what costs might be on the horizon when battling a lien claim. Trying to deescalate the issue through talks and negotiations is typically the best and cheapest option. Lastly, this article may be helpful: A Mechanics Lien Was Filed on My Property – What Do I Do Now?