I’ve been working for subcontracting for a flooring company for over a year now & on the last job I did for them they decided decided to put a hold on my check cause the homeowner had some complaints about the install, I told them to let me know what needed to be done & they decided to just cancel the payment on my check

Senior Legal Associate Levelset

When unpaid for construction work in Texas, generally the most powerful tool for payment recovery is a mechanics lien. But, there are some other steps before filing a lien – some that required, some that are not – that can help recover payment.

I’m not entirely sure what your role is on the project here – but it sounds like you were the subcontractor for a flooring company. If that’s not accurate, please let me know!

Notice required before filing a Texas lien
When a Texas subcontractor goes unpaid for their work, they’ll generally be entitled to lien rights. But, they’ll need to preserve that right to lien by first sending a monthly notice. For residential construction projects, a subcontractor will need to send a second-month notice. Who receives that notice will depend on your role on the job. If your customer was hired directly by the property owner, then only the owner will need to receive the second-month notice. If your customer was hired by another contractor, then the second-month notice must go both to the owner and the project’s prime contractor/GC. This should be a good intro on Texas monthly notices, but you can get more info at these resources: (1) How To Prepare & Send Texas Monthly Notices – Texas Notices Explained; and (2) Texas Preliminary Notice Guide and FAQs.

A payment demand could help
A monthly notice should be used any time payment isn’t made, but there’s another tool that can help recover payment – and it might work a little more quickly. By sending a payment demand letter, an unpaid subcontractor can more formally demand that payment be made. And, demand letters will generally also explain that action will be taken if necessary. For more on demand letters: Demand Letters for Contractors – How To Write One That Gets You Paid

Before a lien becomes necessary…
If a dispute carries on and it looks like payment might not be made, sending a document like a Notice of Intent to Lien might be helpful. A Notice of Intent to Lien acts like a warning shot – it informs recipients that, if payment isn’t made, the project property will be liened. By sending the document to both the property owner and a nonpaying customer, it might be easier to put pressure on a customer to make payment. More on that here: What Is a Notice of Intent to Lien and Should You Send One?

Proceeding with a mechanics lien claim
If all else fails, filing a mechanics lien is a strong move to compel payment. A mechanics lien attaches directly to the project property, and if unpaid, can cause a lot of problems for an owner. As a result, most mechanics lien claims that are filed result in payment before legal action becomes necessary. You can learn more about how mechanics liens force payment here: How Do Mechanics Liens Work? 17 Ways a Lien Gets You Paid.

But, just like with notices, mechanics liens have a deadline and other requirements. You can learn more about that and more about how to actually file a Texas mechanics lien at these resources: (1) Texas Mechanics Lien Guide and FAQs; and (2) How to File Your Texas Mechanics Lien – A Step by Step Guide to Get You Paid.

Other options
There are always options outside of the mechanics lien process that might help to recover payment, including a few of the non-lien options discussed above. Levelset discusses some of these options here: Other Options For Recovery.

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