How do I get the money owed to me for the work that I have done ?

3 weeks ago

I was hired by my neighbor to do a complete basement finish on her home. I drew up the plans, made a complete material list, I did shopping and material pickup,and performed the labor and installations up until she said I was no longer to work on her house. There are several reasons that I believe her decision was based on. Political difference,I would not accept sexual advances ,and also to keep the money for herself. I would be happy to go into detail on everything. Also , I am not a contractor, I’m just a guy that has been in construction for a number of years and she was well aware of this.

Senior Legal Associate Levelset

There are a number of potential recovery tools that may be available when construction work has been performed but not paid for. Let’s look at a few potential options that might work to compel an owner to make payment.

Invoice reminders

Something as simple as an invoice reminder might work to get paid. Invoice reminders are just like they sound – reminders of unpaid invoices. Sometimes, all it takes is a little nudge in the right direction to get a customer to do the right thing and pay what’s owed. More, here: How Invoice Reminders Help Contractors Get Paid Faster.

Demand letters

Taking things a step further with a demand letter might do the trick, too. A payment demand letter will generally include specific legal threats and provide a deadline for making payment. Often, showing an owner that you’re serious about payment recovery and willing to do what it takes to get paid will be enough to force payment. This is especially true when sent via attorney letter.

Notice of Intent to Lien

A Notice of Intent to Lien can work to escalate things even further. A Notice of Intent acts as a warning shot – it shows owners that if payment isn’t made and made soon, then a lien will be filed in order to force payment. Considering how drastically a lien claim can affect a property owner, a Notice of Intent to Lien will often be enough to force payment. More on that tool here: What Is a Notice of Intent to Lien and Should You Send One?

Pursuing a mechanics lien filing

Mechanics liens are generally the most powerful recovery tool on the table for those who perform construction work but go unpaid. However, there are certain notices that must be sent from the beginning of the job in order to preserve the right to lien.

For more information on Minnesota mechanics liens and the notices that may be required in order to preserve those rights:

– Minnesota Mechanics Lien Guide and FAQs
– Minnesota Preliminary Notice Guide and FAQs

Finally, any time that payment isn’t made, as required, there’s a chance that a breach of contract has occurred. Or, if no contract exists, then a claim like unjust enrichment could be available, as well as other potential causes of action.

While full-blown litigation can be costly, risky, and time-consuming; bringing an action in small claims court (or threatening to do so) could be a good option for smaller disputes (under $15,000). For more on Minnesota small claims court, Lawyers.com has a great resource.

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