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Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>Can we file with the district attorney, the customer knew he was not going to pay us, it is a spec house and told us to file the lien, also he is not licensed

Can we file with the district attorney, the customer knew he was not going to pay us, it is a spec house and told us to file the lien, also he is not licensed

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We did a driveway for a customer, he did not tell us until after work was done and billed that he was not going to pay because it is a spec house and he has no money until it is sold, when confronted he said I forgot to tell you, sorry about that. Told us to lien it to get paid, however it is not sold and we had to pay all of our vendors to avoid them shutting us down. Can we turn him into the DA for fraud for intentionally not paying us and not telling us also can we turn him into the contractors license board. He advised that he is not licensed and is not bonded. I believe that CA requires licensing

1 reply

Sep 18, 2018
I'm very sorry to hear that. First, you're right to wonder about licensure - California can be incredibly strict when it comes to licensing. When work exceeds $500 or more, a license is typically required. Note, though, that there may be license exceptions for those performing work on property they own themselves. You can report unlicensed activity here: How can I report unlicensed activity? Regarding fraud - under 1710 of the California Civil Code, a "deceit" (read: fraud) includes "A promise, made without any intention of performing it." Thus, when a customer induces someone into a contract and that party has no intention to pay, the customer may very well be liable under the California Civil Code. Further, in terms of criminal liability, § 484 of the California penal code may also apply - those who defraud others of money or labor are guilty of theft under that section. Reporting criminal fraud to your local District Attorney could be a helpful step here to make sure this customer does not get away scot-free. For civil claims, reaching out to a local attorney to discuss your situation and to review documentation and communications could be a huge help. Further, while not an ideal scenario, filing a lien could help to ensure payment. Of course, in a situation where the property owner is unafraid of lien claims, a claimant may likely have to anticipate enforcing the lien - and the path to payment could be a little longer and require the foreclosure of the property. Still, this could guarantee payment. Finally, as it sounds like the customer feels no personal responsibility to pay the debt, making payment demands directly of that customer could be effective when coupled with specific legal threats against that party (such as breach of contract or unjust enrichment). But again - reaching out to a local attorney could help clear up what potential claims could be in order, especially when a customer appears ready to face legal consequences.
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