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homeowners rights when contractor has been paid in full but hasn't paid the subcontractor

ArizonaPayment Disputes

Been dealing with a nightmare contractor. They have been paid in full in December and as of 1/26/18 got the COC signed indicating i owe them 0 but i put in it as of 1/24/18 sub contractor has not been paid. They have promised to send payment multiple times and i spoke the sub and they still have not been paid. The Sub back in October did file the 20 day preliminary notice but has not filed an actual lien yet. The owner said he would contact me first. The contractor is giving me the run around. It seems like other states the law favors the contractor and sub contractor not the homeowner. What can i do to force the contractor to pay so I can get a lien release from the sub? If i want to go after the surety bond it appears i might have to sue, again not homeowner friendly.

2 replies

Mar 30, 2018
I'm sorry to hear about that. Perhaps the best way to force an unwilling contractor into cooperating might be to remind them of their duty to defend lien action. In Arizona, a contractor must defend an owner from liens filed by any person other than that contractor. Specifically, § 33-995 of the Arizona mechanics lien statute states that "If the owner has settled with the contractor in full, or if such an amount is not owing to the contractor, the owner may recover back from the contractor the amount so paid by him, and for which the contractor was the party originally liable." This means that, if the contractor has already been paid in full, the contractor may be required to return the payments made from an owner to said contractor in order to fend off the lien claim. Notifying the contractor that they are legally required to defend the property owner from a subcontractor's lien claim should help adjust the contractor's point of view - it should remind them that payment to a subcontractor is also the GC's problem, not just the owner's problem. Of course, sending a demand letter to that contractor requesting that payment be made to the subcontractor (or else - legal action would be initiated) is often effective as well. Finally, reporting the contractor to the Arizona Registrar of Contractors or filing a consumer complaint with the Arizona Attorney General (or merely threatening to do so) could be effective.
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Aug 17, 2021
We are having the same problem. Sort of. The contractor said he would do the job in 10 days and would do whatever it took to get it done. ie....working late and on weekends. He never worked late, came in late, but didn't work late, and didn't show up on the weekends. We did all the demo. We gave him $800 before anything was done, so he could order the glass for the shower. Then when he first got there, we gave him a 3rd of what was left. After the 10 days, if I said he had done 30%, that would be generous. Yet, he wanted the 2nd, payment which was suppose to be given after he had finished 1/2 of the job. We said no, and he said he was going to leave. He did. Now, he won't pay his subcontractor, who is coming after us. We live in Florida, I don't know if that makes a difference. It just seems that everything on the internet/Google is for the contractor and the subcontractor. Nothing for the home owner. We have given this man $2300. He hardly did anything. He needs to give it to the subcontractor.
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