If the homeowner kicked us off property three days ago and for a month now hasn't paid me any money. She has made comment I'm not getting paid till job is done.
Jul 10, 2019
I'm sorry to hear about that. When unpaid for construction work performed, there are multiple options for trying to recover what's owed. We'll explore some of those options below.
Notice of Intent to Lien
Mechanics liens might be the most powerful tool available for payment recovery, and we'll discuss them in more depth below. But, because a mechanics lien is such a powerful tool, the mere threat or warning that a mechanics lien will be filed is often enough to compel payment. Because a mechanics lien puts the owner's property title in jeopardy, owners must typically take the potential for a lien claim seriously - and that can really help get the ball rolling with payment talks. So, by sending a document like a Notice of Intent to Lien, a claimant might be able to compel payment without the costs or headaches associated with a mechanics lien filing, and sending a Notice of Intent to Lien is generally less expensive and intense than most other recovery options. More on that idea here: What Is a Notice of Intent to Lien and Should You Send One?
Mechanics liens and payment recovery
Mechanics liens might be the most powerful tool for getting paid in the construction industry. When a mechanics lien is filed, the project owner's property title is put into question - and, as you could imagine, owners don't like that. Because the potential outcomes after a lien has been filed are so drastic, an owner doesn't have much choice other than to deal with the payment claim head-on. If they don't, that owner could potentially face the loss of their property. But - mechanics liens rights will only arise for payments that are owed but not paid for work that's been performed. So, if a claimant hasn't performed all of the work on their contract - their entire contract price won't be lienable. Rather, only the value or price of the work that's been performed (but not paid for) would be lienable. You can learn more about how mechanics liens work here: How Do Mechanics Liens Work? 17 Ways a Lien Gets You Paid. Further, you can learn more about Oklahoma's specific rules on liens here: Oklahoma Mechanics Lien Overview.
Of course, there are always other options outside of the mechanics lien process - and a lien might not be right for every situation. For one, threatening or actually pursuing legal action could work to speed up payment. By sending a payment demand letter coupled with specific legal threats - like a breach of contract claim, unjust enrichment claim, or some other legal claim - a claimant may be able to get payment talks going in the right direction. Further, for smaller payment claims (of $10,000 or less), claimants might be able to avoid the delays and expenses related to legal actions by trying to recover payment via small claims court. Of course, before pursuing any specific course of legal action, it's generally a good idea to consult with a construction attorney. They'll be able to assess the situation, any relevant documentation, and options for moving forward, then they can advise on how best to proceed.