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Thread: small claims court

  1. #1
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    Default small claims court

    i have a brand new remodeler who is 25 days late on $412

    im annoyed with him...he has promised to deliver it to my house last week and didnt...usually new customers pay quickly to establish a positive relationship..i had a bad feeling about him from the start...i should have said no

    the prelien will be delivered to the homeowner on monday and will probably result in homeowner pressure for him to pay..it usually works in 1 day...it costs me $41 for my lien company to handle it.

    in these cases my next step (in 30 days) is to call the homeowner and ask for payment directly.....only had to do it once so far....

    let say the homeowner doesnt respond either....and because the dollar amount is so small that i want to do to small claims court....is it the homeowner or the contractor i take to court?

    im pretty sure i can tack on interest charges and court costs too...

    i have them already at 1.5% per month and i will be charging it this time.

  2. #2

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    You have to take the contractor to court as your contract is with the contractor and not the home owner... for all you know the home owner has already paid in full... and of course you need to take what I have just said with a pinch of salt as I am no expert in this... and you should perhaps seek such advice from an expert.

    What I would also do is look at your terms of business... perhaps you can implement things to stop this happening in the future... for example on all orders below $1,000 you require payment up front... or just for the first job of new contractors... and especially when you have that feeling... always go with the gut feeling and cover yourself.
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    Mr. Tax Man
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    You could go after either. Obviously the homeowner probably paid the general contractor, so you should try collecting from him first.

    The pre-lien should certainly send a smoke signal to the homeowner. He'll probably argue with the contractor about why you (subcontractor) are sending this lien. Hopefully that's the end of the story. But if not, you could certainly go after the homeowner. You DID provide the service. The homeowner would likely then go after the contractor.

    Hopefully you have a contract.
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    You have to go over the person you have the contract with. If it is with the contractor - he would be the only person you have recourse with in my experience.
    Steve B

  5. #5

    Default Who To Sue? Who to Lien? Really Depends.

    The answer to your question really depends on the law in your state. In many states, even when you haven't contracted with the property owner, if you properly file a mechanic's lien, you are allowed to bring a lawsuit against the person you contracted with AND the property owner.

    You will want to take a look into the lien laws of your state, contact an attorney, etc. etc.

    <Please set up a signature to link back to your sites>

    http://www.expresslien.com

    Good luck.
    Last edited by expresslien; 01-04-2009 at 09:51 PM. Reason: add signature

  6. #6

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    Before you sue the homeowner think about the potential business you'd lose by doing that. I'm sure you put stickers on the hot water heater and furnace you installed. When those items need service they sure aren't going to call you after you brought them to small claims court.

    Aaron

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    Mr. Tax Man
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve B View Post
    He would be the only person you have recourse with in my experience.
    Generally this is true, but not in this case.

    If I steal a car from a parking lot and sell it to you for $5,000 -- I get $5,000. If you're caught with this stolen car (let's forget about the fact that neither of us had a title, and the semantics beyond it), it is still property of the original owner. So you could be sued to get the car, even though you had "bought" it.

    This is very similar, but not identical.
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    i talked with my lien service about it today...the prelien goes out today

    90&#37; chance it will be resolved asap because of it

    the lien service says small claims court will be me vs the contractor..

    ive been in these situations only a couple of times and have always collected. so im sure it will work out.

    there were atleast 3 bad signs with this guy...as winter sets in and work tightens up i went against my instincts. i wont ask for cash up front w/ existing clients since there isnt a problem with them. asking for money up front from existing customers would be insulting.....its rarely done in plumbing...i warn homeowner against plumbers who ask for money up front...i dont get paid until i complete the job and with homeowners i dont leave the house until i have a check in my hand. i give contractors 30 days even though on average contractors are far less trustworthy people when compared with mr.average citizen...50% of contractors are crooked on some level from my experience. 75% dont know how to run a business

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    got my check from this guy today..

    i had 1 letter, 2 faxes, 4 phone calls, he said he was on his way 2x and never showed up. i did the prelien to the homeowner and that didnt get him to move...

    what worked?....i called and said he was over 30 days late and i do not allow that and i will be contacting the homeowner next week unless i get a check this week....he stopped what he was doing and drove over to my house...30 minutes is all it took!

    he said he wants to keep using me and that he was sorry...he says he has a poor memory....

    he wants me to do more work in the future for him...i have a bid on the rest of the project and he wants me to do it...how should i handle this?

    part of me says just say no thanks
    part says ask for money up front and to be paid in full when i show up in the morning..

    any ideas?

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    I wouldn't do anything else for him. He's a liar. I'd have been fine if he was late, but honest about it.
    Steve B

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