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Payment for work performed

MissouriLawsuitMechanics LienNotice of Intent to LienRecovery OptionsRight to Lien

I was hired to do work on a house when it was halfway finished, they brought someone else in to finish it, When I talked to them about it, I got a response that no work was finished, How does one get paid for work that was performed. I did talk with the home owners, he said he hired one company to do all the work. from there that company subbed out parts of the work. which in turn was subbed out again. That is where I fall into place. How would you resolve getting paid,

1 reply

Jul 5, 2019
I'm really sorry to hear you had problems with this job. Everyone deserves to be paid what they've earned, and I'm sure it was frustrating to get pulled off a job for seemingly no reason. Let's look at a few potential options for recovery.

Notice of Intent to Lien
When unpaid for construction work, often, the strongest available tool for recovery will be to assert mechanics lien rights. There's some trickiness in determining whether subs have the right to file a mechanics lien in Missouri, and we'll get to that in detail below. But, regardless of whether a mechanics lien can or will be filed, merely threatening to file a mechanics lien can be an effective move. By sending a document like a Notice of Intent to Lien, a claimant can threaten to file a mechanics lien and grab the attention of their customer and/or the property owner. And, because a mechanics lien is such a powerful tool, a Notice of Intent to Lien can often lead to payment without the need for actually proceeding with a lien claim. Plus, for Missouri claimants, a Notice of Intent to Lien is a required part of the mechanics lien process anyway - so, sending a Notice of Intent is extra effective, plus it would be a required step for someone wanting to file a lien, anyway. You can read more about the Notice of Intent to Lien document and its uses here: What Is a Notice of Intent to Lien and Should You Send One?

Regarding the right to file a lien in Missouri...
While mechanics liens are a powerful tool, there's pretty limited on residential construction projects. You can take a deeper dive on the state's mechanics lien rules here, but unless you've contracted with the residential property owner, Missouri subs and suppliers won't have the ability to file a mechanics lien on the project unless the owner has signed a Consent of Owner document with their prime contractor. If that document has been signed by the owner, though (which is relatively common), then subs and suppliers would be entitled to lien rights for work that gets performed but isn't paid for. Missouri lien claimants can file their lien up to 6 months after the last date labor and/or materials were furnished from the project. However, a Notice of Intent to Lien must be made at least 10 days prior to recording a mechanics lien in Missouri (for all claimants other than the prime contractor). So, in reality, the deadline to act is shortened some. And, in practice, it's a good idea to send a Notice of Intent to Lien well before the lien deadline to speed up payment and avoid potential deadline trouble. For more information on what notices may be required in order to preserve the right to file a Missouri lien, here's a great resource: About Missouri Preliminary Notices.

Other Options Of course, there are always options for recovery outside of the mechanics lien process. For one, threatening specific legal claims while making a demand for payment can be effective. When a payment demand letter is sent (potentially by an attorney) and threatens legal action - like, potentially, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, or a claim under Missouri's prompt payment laws - an owner and a customer are likely to take a payment demand more seriously. Obviously, actually pursuing those legal claims might work, too. Plus, for claimants who want to avoid the cost and time that legal action typically requires, small claims court might be an option (for disputes of $5,000 or less).

With all of the above in mind, it might be helpful to consult an attorney before deciding to proceed with a demand letter or legal action. They'll be able to best assess what options might be most fruitful, plus a lawyer would either be necessary or really helpful for those options, anyway.

I hope this information was helpful!
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