Quickest Way to Remove "Fraudulent" Mechanics Lien?

9 Replies

I'm hoping some of you experts in the community can share an answer or idea which may expedite the process of getting a mechanics lien removed. 

We used a company to renovate on of our properties and it turns out that they weren't licensed as they claimed (no need to point out that we should have checked first, we know). We ended up in a dispute over the work done, plus inflated invoices. I'll spare you the long details, but while we made mistakes in the process, the company is blatantly attempting to scam us. When we refused to pay their grossly inflated invoice for work that wasn't done, done properly, or completed, they threatened to file a lien. We attempted to work it out and pay the original agreed upon amount, but they refused to budge.

They filed a mechanics lien, which is now holding up a closing with our new buyer. The lien is fraudulent and inflated, plus they aren't properly licensed. We filed a complaint with DBPR and it also looks like they will be charged criminally with fraud, plus licensing charges, plus filing a fraudulent lien. HOWEVER, we still have our buyers waiting to close and we have to get the lien removed.

By law (we are in Florida), they have 20 days from the time we contest the lien to file suit. We contested the lien, but it took a couple weeks to even get them served with the notice, as they had the wrong physical address on their corporate docs. 

Can anyone tell me if there is a faster way to resolve this issue, considering the large amount of evidence we have showing that it's completely bogus? Has anyone dealt with a similar issue and been able to get in front of a judge quickly? We are trying to avoid bonding around the lien if we can find a quicker way. The company wasn't open to negotiating the lien either, so that doesn't appear to be an option. 

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. By the way - the companies name is "Royal Investment Group" and the owners name is Wille Farah, for those of you who may be in the Orlando area and want to know who to avoid. A quick google search reveals a history of scams and deceptive business practices. Wish we would have looked before hiring.

Have an attorney write them pointing out their prior history and that they are not licensed and have comitted fraud.Yes you want to clear this up so the bond maybe the fastes way as things of this matter may take a while. Do an asset search to see what they company and owner own. You may have to attach some assets.

Cheyenne, 

I am a General Contractor in Seminole County.  Basically, they have every right to file a lien if they are not getting paid.  The clock is ticking and they only have so many days.   It sounds like they know the lien law pretty well and see you as uneducated. The fastest way to clear this up is to negotiate everything. Of course you can look into getting a Surety Bond, but in my 29 years of contracting every time I look into it, it is so difficult and expensive I do not go down that road.  If you are still interested, look up FS 763.76.  All the lien law is under Chapter 713 of the Florida Statutes.  What I typically do in these situations is schedule a meeting with the vendor and make it as long and uncomfortable as possible.  Keep a cool head an look at every line in the agreement and everything on the bill.  Do not move on to the next item until you are satisfied that the quality or cost meets your expectation.  Quality is very subjective.  Most have short attention spans ..  Everything is negotiable.  Remind him that filing a false lien is a third degree felony and if he chooses to continue on this route he may be looking at loosing his license.  You can also request for copies of the final releases from his vendors and material-men.  You have every right to know that all the bills have been paid.  See Chapter 713.31.2.  In any case, you should invest in at least an initial meeting with a good construction attorney.  If you need one contact me and I will give you the number.  He represents many contractors and can size up the situation quickly.

Eric

These people are not licensed GC's. They advertised that they were, but they aren't. They also advertised that they have the license to draft legal documents, prepare taxes and manage and list properties. They aren't GC's, realtors, attorneys or accountants. The DBPR is going after them and it appears the state attorney is moving forward with fraud charges and possibly a couple other charges.

I would agree that they "know" the law when it comes to filing a lien, but that's only because they have pre-paid legal. They apparently don't know the law as it applies to unlicensed activities.

As for the lien, the licensing is irrelevant.  Fastest way is to bond it off, place 110% cash in a court registry.  Everything else will take time.

That's what I was afraid of. The latest issue is that we can't serve them because they have the wrong addresses registered with the state. There's tenants living in the house that they use as a business address and the tenants don't know who the company is. Any ideas on how that process of service would work? Or getting in front of a judge since we can't even serve them??

Thanks for the heads up Cheyenne!  I will make sure to stay away from this company.  Keep us posted on what happens.  Hope it all works out in your favor.

@Cheyenne Davis  

Also, if I recall correctly, when you properly contest a lien, I believe there is then a 60 day (not 20 day) clock for the lienor to file suit, or lose the lien.  20 days usually relates to answering a complaint.  Posting, by a process server, at the address shown for them in their lien filing, may suffice as service, I don't know.  Otherwise, you'd have to actually find and serve them, or "serve by publication".  You need a construction lien attorney.  Sounds like you need to post the cash bond, close, then go after them.

Originally posted by @Cheyenne Davis :

That's what I was afraid of. The latest issue is that we can't serve them because they have the wrong addresses registered with the state. There's tenants living in the house that they use as a business address and the tenants don't know who the company is. Any ideas on how that process of service would work? Or getting in front of a judge since we can't even serve them??

Serving them papers is easy , make them come to you .  How ?  GREED , money is the motivating factor . Find someone unrelated to the situation to be the process server , find a house of a friend , lawyer , what ever , have them represent themselves as someone that needs some renovations have a " husband and wife " there 2 people make better witnesses to the service  , On the phone elude that these are  BIG MONEY renovations .  You want the owner to come out , not a salesman ,  When he introduces himself , hand him the plans , these are really the papers being served .    Greed works , let it work for you . 

They're being investigated and will be served with cease and desist papers from the state, so they wont be bidding any new jobs. I do not know that they have received the cease and desist from the state yet though. My guess is they haven't, BUT I don't think they will be bidding on any new jobs for a while. They know they are facing several criminal charges, so I doubt going through the process of setting them up will work. Not a bad idea, but I think it's wishful thinking at this point.

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