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How can I get a client to pay who has stopped making payments. What legal action can I take?

CaliforniaRecovery Options

Work was completed in June 2018. The client began making payments and is currently well over 100 days past due. We were hired directly by the owner. The owner has failed to pay out other contracts as well for this project. The amount owed is just under 50,000. The project is a residential building.

1 reply

Jan 16, 2019
Great question. When work has been performed but goes unpaid, there are a number of potential options available. For one, the most powerful option available will usually be to file a mechanics lien. It's worth noting, though, that California is strict about the deadline to file a lien - and when hired directly by the property owner, a mechanics lien must be filed within 90 days of the completion of the project, at the latest. When this deadline comes and goes, a claimant will no longer be able to file a valid and enforceable mechanics lien. Still, due to the power of a lien claim, the mere threat of a lien filing will often do the trick and convince the customer to pay. zlien discusses that in depth here: What Is a Notice of Intent to Lien and Should You Send One? Using or leveraging a mechanics lien isn't the only way to obtain payment, of course. California claimants could also leverage the threat of other legal claims, such as breach of contract, unjust enrichment, prompt payment claims, or retainage claims, to name a few potential options. Of course, the threat of action won't always work - so taking legal action and filing suit under some theory of recovery could be a strong move too. Considering the amount owed is so substantial, and considering the project was completed so long ago and payments have fallen so far behind, it would likely be wise to reach out to a local construction attorney. They will be able to review any and all relevant information and advise you on how best to proceed. Good luck!
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