Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>I was hired by sod contractor to remove existing grass and replace with fresh topsoil. Job started Feb. 12, 2019 and lasted late March. Total invoice was $10,562.00 and was due upon completion. I received two draw payments of $2,750. each. Thane done work for several years and always had a great relationship. This is first time not paying. Claims homeowner won’t pay him until all projects are done. Some do not involve me. What should I do?
I was hired by sod contractor to remove existing grass and replace with fresh topsoil. Job started Feb. 12, 2019 and lasted late March. Total invoice was $10,562.00 and was due upon completion. I received two draw payments of $2,750. each. Thane done work for several years and always had a great relationship. This is first time not paying. Claims homeowner won’t pay him until all projects are done. Some do not involve me. What should I do?
Waiting on payment. Was due upon completion of my part of job.
May 15, 2019
That's an interesting question, and I'm sorry to hear that you've been struggling to obtain payment here. First, let's explore some potential options for payment recovery. Then, we can dive into how those options may affect relationships, as well as how to work to keep relationships intact while also working to recover payment. When payment is owed but has not been made for an improvement to a property, typically, the strongest recovery method is a mechanics lien. Of course, mechanics liens are generally the nuclear option, and there are some other steps typically exhausted before diving into a lien claim. For one, following up on an invoice is a good first start. Obviously, where your customer is also struggling to get paid, this might not be the most fruitful option, but it may help to also seek out the owner to inquire about payment. For one, it can add urgency to the payment situation. Further, in the off chance that there's some funny business going on with a customer, discussing payment with the owner would help uncover an issue there as well. When the payment issue is known and no movement has happened, another option might be to send a Notice of Intent to Lien to the property owner, and potentially, to the customer. By sending a Notice of Intent to Lien, a claimant can show that they're serious about payment, and that nonpayment isn't an option. When an owner understands that their failure to make payment might result in a lien claim, they're typically inclined to get payment talks moving and to avoid having a lien claim filed on their property. Further, if the payment issue is a result of the customer's actions, making the owner aware of a potential lien claim can help to put pressure on the customer and make sure payment is released as required. Finally, if talking out the issue and warning of impending lien claims isn't enough to get paid, actually filing a mechanics lien claim might do the trick. As mentioned above, mechanics lien claims are a powerful recovery tool, and they have the ability to affect relationships, so most construction businesses prefer to resolve lien claims without the need for a lien. But, if push comes to shove and payment is needed, then a lien claim can go a long way to make sure payment is obtained. Of course, keep in mind that there are strict notice and deadline requirements that must be taken into account, and you can learn about those here: Oklahoma Lien & Notice Overview. Further, outside of the mechanics lien process, a lien claimant can always try and leverage or assert other legal claims as well. As for relationships, recall that while mechanics liens are a powerful tool, they can negatively affect relationships. So, before a lien claim is made, some construction businesses will discuss the matter with their customer beforehand so that they're not surprised by the lien claim. Further, explaining the situation to the customer before sending a document like a Notice of Intent to Lien can also take some of the sting out of the situation and keep a relationship intact. When there's a good relationship between a customer and their subcontractor, it's not unheard of that the customer might even support their sub in pursuing a lien. That way, both parties can remain on the same side while pursuing payment from an owner who has failed to release it.