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Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>I am a unlicensed contractor, that had a signed contract with a homeowner. performed the contract with great quality. upon completion, I asked the homeowner for my final payment and they have refused to give me my final payment. the homeowner asked for an itemized list of what I charged them, I was hesitant in giving them one only because I knew it would be nothing but a tool to not pay me. However, I gave it to them. And they came back and said I over charged them! it has been three weeks going back and forth trying to get my final payment. Is there anything I can do to get my final payment?

I am a unlicensed contractor, that had a signed contract with a homeowner. performed the contract with great quality. upon completion, I asked the homeowner for my final payment and they have refused to give me my final payment. the homeowner asked for an itemized list of what I charged them, I was hesitant in giving them one only because I knew it would be nothing but a tool to not pay me. However, I gave it to them. And they came back and said I over charged them! it has been three weeks going back and forth trying to get my final payment. Is there anything I can do to get my final payment?

MichiganRecovery Options

Homeowner has a perfect job, that I did for a friend of ours. And they are refusing to pay me my final balance!

1 reply

Dec 11, 2018
I'm very sorry to hear about that. Nothing is more frustrating than someone refusing to pay what you've earned. Often, the solution to situations such as the one posed above will be to file a mechanics lien. Mechanics lien rights arise when parties perform construction work and then go unpaid for that work - though there are a number of specific deadlines, notices, and other requirements that apply (you can learn about those here: Michigan Lien and Notice FAQs). One of these requirements is licensure. If a license is required to perform certain work in Michigan and the party who performs that work does not hold the necessary licensure, the work will not give rise to lien rights. What's more, an unlicensed contractor could also be liable for damages and criminal penalties could even come into play. It's worth noting that even where lien rights might not exist, threatening to file a lien - via a document like a Notice of Intent to Lien - can go a long way to compel payment. Mechanics liens are powerful, and they directly threaten a property owner's title - so the threat of lien is not taken lightly, and an owner might be more willing to talk deal if they know a lien claim is potentially on the horizon. You can learn more about a Notice of Intent here: What Is a Notice of Intent to Lien and Should You Send One? Further, threatening to file suit, and potentially sending a demand letter threatening specific legal actions could be effective to compel payment - and sending such a demand via an attorney can help provide some extra "umph". But if licensure was required but not held at the time of work, official methods of recovery such as a lien claim or suit might not be available. For more clarity, it might be helpful to reach out to a local construction attorney - they'll be able to review the relevant documentation as well as your particular circumstances and advise on how to move forward.
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