If I contract for home repairs, can the contractor put a lien on my house? What can I do if I am unhappy with their work?

If a contractor works on your house and you fail to pay them, they may have the right to put a lien (a debt) against your house.

A lien makes it impossible to sell the home until the debt is paid or discharged. The lien gives the contractor the ability to force the sale of the property through foreclosure and use the sale proceeds to pay off the debt. You can remove the lien by paying the contractor.

In a home improvement project, you might only have a contract with the general contractor. Subcontractors may not have a contract with you, but they can place liens on your property. You might pay the contractor in full but if he fails to pay the subcontractors, they would have the right to file a lien. Then, you would have to sue the contractor. There is a way to protect yourself against subcontractor claims.

You may not want to pay the debt because you are unhappy with the home improvement work. You should try to work this out with the contractor before a lien is filed. You can also file a complaint with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

If a lien is filed, we recommend that you consult with an attorney immediately. This area of law is complex and there are specific deadlines.

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