Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>How do I get paid when a homeowner refuses to pay agreed upon contract price.

How do I get paid when a homeowner refuses to pay agreed upon contract price.

ArizonaLawsuitMechanics LienPayment Disputes

I have a written contract that the homeowner has paid 3 outofthe 4 contractual payments but refuses to make the last. Which has left me and my family literally looking for change to see if we have enough returns to get money from to buy food for dinner.

1 reply

Sep 17, 2018
I'm very sorry to hear that you are in this situation. Not being paid what you have earned is always frustrating, but it's even more so when it results in real day-to-day problems instead of just cash problems that are a little more removed. Doing the work and still struggling due to non-payment is not how it is supposed to work.

Mechanics liens can be a powerful tool to get paid for work on construction projects, but in order for a mechanics lien to be possible, certain requirements must be met. In Arizona, only parties who contract directly with the property owner may have a lien against an owner-occupied residence. However, that's only part of the story. Arizona requires potential lien claimants to send a preliminary notice to the property owner (and construction lender, if there is one) within 20 days of first furnishing labor or materials to the project. If it is sent late, the notice will work to protect the amounts due for labor and materials furnished from the date 20 days prior to the date on which the notice was sent. If the notice is not sent at all, or is sent more than 20 days after the claimant ceased work on the property, no valid/enforceable lien may be filed.

If the preliminary notice was sent, a lien may be filed. In Arizona, mechanics liens must be filed within 120 days from the date the project as a whole was completed - but that period can be shortened to 60 days from the filing of a notice of completion if such a notice is filed.

A mechanics lien is an interest in the property itself (meaning the property can even be sold to satisfy the debt) so it is a very powerful tool to recover money owed for work performed for the property. And, even if it is not the path forward in this case, implementing a procedure to always retain lien rights and promote open communication throughout your projects is a good idea moving forward.

If a mechanics lien is not an option, there are still other ways to recover. A claimant may file a lawsuit against the non-paying homeowner for breach of contract, and violation of Arizona's prompt payment laws, along with potentially other causes of action, as well. Depending on the amount due, the lawsuit may be able to be filed in small claims court, (up to $3,500 in the small claims division, and up to $10,000 in the justice court). This may cut down on the time and expense of recovering through the litigation process.

I hope you are able to get paid, and that this works out for you. Good luck.
0 people found this helpful