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I have a client who haven't pay me the full amount of the job. What can I do?

WashingtonLawsuitMechanics LienNotice of Intent to LienPayment DisputesRecovery Options

Has been 85 days since I went for the last time to this job site.

1 reply

Jun 28, 2019
I'm sorry to hear you've had trouble getting paid on this job. There are a number of different options that might be helpful tools for recovery, so let's break down a few of the most common options for construction payment recovery.

Mechanics liens are construction's most powerful recovery tool
Mechanics liens may be the most powerful tool for payment recovery, and they work to compel payment in a number of ways. When a lien is filed, the project owner's title to the underlying property is put into question. If a lien is filed and the dispute continues, a lien filing could even result in the owner's property being foreclosed. However, the deadline to file a Washington mechanics lien claim is relatively short - mechanics liens must be filed within 90 days of the claimant's last work on the project. Though, lien filings can be completed in a relatively short amount of time. For more information on Washington lien claims, this resource will be helpful: Washington Mechanics Lien Overview.

The threat of a lien filing may be enough to get paid
Because mechanics liens are so powerful, the mere threat of a lien filing may be enough to get paid sometimes. By sending a document like a Notice of Intent to Lien, some claimants are able to recover payment without even needing to file a lien. But, when timelines are tight, sending a lien warning might not always be possible. Still, if there's time, it could be a worthwhile option. But, it's also worth mentioning that a lien threat might still be effective, regardless of whether a mechanics lien can or will ultimately be filed.

If a claimant can't (or doesn't want to) proceed with a lien claim, there are always other options for recovery too. For one, depending on the amount of the claim, a small claims court action may be an option. Further, threatening legal action - like under breach of contract, or an action under some other legal theory - could do the trick. Payment demand letters tend to be particularly effective when legal action is threatened and when they're sent via an attorney. Finally, pursuing litigation is always an option, too. For more information on other recovery options, here's a helpful article: Can’t File a Lien? Here Are Some Other Options For Recovery
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