New Florida Law Increases Penalties for Certain Construction Late Payments

On July 1, Florida legislation that imposes stronger consequences on late payments throughout the construction chain for certain services took effect. The consequences outlined in Florida Senate Bill 378 include higher interest rates on past due payments and criminal charges for those suspected of misappropriating funds.

"The statute change was based around trying to change payment habits," said Chris Ring, of NACM Secured Transaction Services (STS). "The statute change offers penalties to be inflicted. So, habits will change when and if material suppliers and subs choose to inflict penalties."

Credit professionals doing business within the state may expect to collect payments quicker with the aid of these key provisions:

  • An increase in the minimum interest rate for late payments from 1% to 2% per month on qualifying public construction projects.
  • Public projects where any person, firm or contractor knowingly and intentionally fails to make required payments due to a misappropriation of construction funds will be considered a felony.
  • Parties convicted of misappropriating funds shall have their licenses suspended for a minimum of one year. The convicted parties also are subject to additional penalties under the licensing board if it sees fit.
  • Under the Construction Contract Prompt Payment Law, interest on private construction projects will be charged on all late payments for construction services at the rate provided in the Florida statute (4.25%, as of Aug. 12), plus an additional 12% annually, beginning on the 14th day after payment is due.

The prospect of being charged with these violations could help payments promptly flow down to suppliers. "I don't see any downsides for material suppliers and contractors," Ring said. "I believe the change happened recently to provide more payment pressure. I wouldn't say specifically that it was a pandemic issue. However, Florida was hit hard by the pandemic, and it caused some project delays and in turn caused payment delays."

Suppliers also can benefit from the increased protection under the revised prompt payment laws by notifying potential individuals that can be held liable for holding funds. Read more about prompt payment statutes.

-Bryan Mason, editorial associate

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Sunday, 26 June 2022

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