What should I do to get payment for the construction service which I already performed?

6 months ago

My client who is a sweet food store owner but not the property owner terminated our remodeling contract on Nov. 19, 2019 without any warning or discussion. I mailed the preliminary notice to the property owner on Nov. 25, 2019 in order to cover the service payment between Nov. 5, 2019 and Nov. 19, 2019. I stopped working on the project after I got the notice. I requested the service payment through phone call and text message. The client never responded it. Then I emailed her the bill of $9500 and also indicated interest rate, collection or mechanics lien could happen. Her lawyer sent me a letter and said I made threats to the client, the threats are tantamount to extortion and warrant exploration of all legal and nonlegal remedies against me and my company as well as listed other wrong actions which I made. I have been feeling very unfair. I only need a dialogue and I am willing to re-think the payment the client should make. What should I do for next step?

Senior Legal Associate Levelset
355 reviews

Warning another party that legal rights will be used if necessary and valid payments aren’t made is not extortion, blackmail, or elicit in some other way. Rather, it’s quite the opposite – it provides the debtor the ability to make an overdue payment before legal processes become involved. Unfortunately, when faced with the potential of a mechanics lien filing, owners will often challenge the merits of the claim regardless of whether their arguments are valid. Levelset discusses that here: My Lien Was Challenged: What Do I Do?

With that being said, if an owner or their attorney refuses to make payments that are owed, pursuing a mechanics lien may be a fruitful option. As you mention above, lien rights will only be available to the extent that preliminary notice was sent. But, for amounts covered by a preliminary notice, mechanics lien rights should be available to the extent that the claimant’s work provided a permanent improvement to the project property.

Of course, before pursuing a mechanics lien claim, it might be valuable to provide an owner with one last opportunity to pay. Sending a document like a Notice of Intent to Lien to a property owner (or instead, to their lawyer) can serve as a last ditch effort to avoid a lien filing. And, making a settlement offer to forgive the debt for some amount of payment could be effective, too. At the very least, that might help to create a more open conversation about the debt at hand.

Additional resources on California mechanics lien rights

I hope this information has been helpful. If you need legal advice on how to proceed with recovering payment, it might be helpful to consult with a local California construction attorney (such as one of these California Construction Payment Experts). They’ll be able to review your circumstances as well as any relevant project documentation, then advise on how to move forward.

For more information on California mechanics lien rights:

– California Mechanics Lien Guide and FAQs
– How to File A California Mechanics Lien – Step By Step Guide To Get You Paid

Disclaimer: The information presented here is not legal advice and should not be construed as such. Rather, this content is provided for informational purposes. Do not act on this information as if it is advice. Further, this post does not create any attorney-client relationship. If you do need legal advice, seek the help of a local attorney.
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