How does it work if there was never anything WRITTEN and all agreements were Verbal?

2 months ago

Made verbal agreement on providing small services, including furniture assembly, removing and relocating furniture (from in town office location to residential), assembling shelves and installing on garage walls,various landscaping * rockbeds, mulch,planting,Rockwall design, water runoff control*.—Gated Community—

Day b4 agreed date of payment, clients is handed invoice. Later that evening client calls and cancells meeting due to Dr appointment. Client now refuses paying stating the invoice is excessively high and also phoned security at gate to not allow me inside community.

Additional info about this contractor
Project Role: General Contractor
Project Type: Residential
Senior Legal Associate Levelset
446 reviews

It’s always a good idea to use written contracts. Without them, it can be nearly impossible to prove what price, scope of work, and project schedule have been agreed upon, among other details. Still, recovery options will be on the table even if there’s no written contract.

Filing a mechanics lien may be an option

Generally speaking, Texas claimants don’t necessarily have to have a written contract in order to file a valid and enforceable mechanics lien. Note, however, that if this is the owner’s homestead property, there are very specific steps that would’ve been necessary to preserve your lien rights from the start of the job – including having a written contract. More on the homestead rules here: What are the notice requirements for Residential Homestead Lein in Texas.

If this property is not the owner’s homestead, then filing a lien may be a useful tool for forcing payment. What’s more, simply threatening to file a lien claim could be an option, too. Mailing a Notice of Intent to Lien to the property owner will let them know you’re serious about getting paid and willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that happens.  More on that option, here: What is A Notice of Intent to Lien And Should I Send One?

If an actual lien filing does become necessary, these two resources should be really useful: (1) Texas Mechanics Lien Guide and FAQs; and (2) How to File Your Texas Mechanics Lien – A Step by Step Guide. Also, note that liens can generally be filed even if there’s a dispute over what’s owed and even if there’s a dispute over the quality of work.

Mechanics liens aren’t the only way to force payment

For one, sending a payment demand letter could lead to payment. A payment demand letter will generally include specific legal threats, like breach of contract or under the Texas prompt payment laws. Further, they’ll usually give the customer a hard deadline for making payment. Otherwise, legal action will be undertaken.

To be sure – even if the contract was simply verbal, it’s possible a breach of contract claim may be on the table. And, the Texas prompt payment laws protect contractors from being slow paid by their customers – and non-paying customers could be on the hook for interest payments.

These legal claims or others may be available, so consulting a local Texas construction lawyer might be a good idea. You can find one here: Find a Texas Construction Lawyer. Also, note that for claims under $10,000, Texas small claims court could be an option for streamlining the dispute and keeping the lawyers out of it.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is not legal advice and should not be construed as such. Rather, this content is provided for informational purposes. Do not act on this information as if it is advice. Further, this post does not create any attorney-client relationship. If you do need legal advice, seek the help of a local attorney.
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