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working in puerto rico on rebuilding homes roofs interior then non payment

Puerto RicoLawsuitMechanics LienPayment DisputesRecovery Options

i went to work for a company in puerto rico who is from the U.S. rebuilding flooded homes wind damaged roofs. they work for a larger company they supplied all materials we supplied labor. when it was time to get paid they gave us two checks for around 16k both bounced (INSF). He promised to pay us if we would finish up some more houses for him and we returned after he promised to pay us on the 15 th of the month cause bigger company pays twice a month. stayed 3 weeks more did multiple houses and he blames major company for nonpayment. but yet he is still working for them now. he owes more than 20k now every week he promises on friday next friday okay the 15th then the 1st of month. I have all the address of the homes we did, what can i do, lien on homes?? bad checks??

1 reply

Jul 20, 2018
I'm sorry to hear about your situation - not being paid what you are owed is stressful and frustrating.

For private projects in Puerto Rico, protection against non-payment can take the form of a claim against a bond on the project, a claim against the projects funds, or an actual mechanics lien itself. In Puerto Rico, mechanics liens are specifically limited to laborers, and only if no bond was provided on the project. No preliminary notice is required for mechanics lien protection, and the lien itself must only be delivered to the owner prior to initiating a suit to enforce. The suit to enforce the lien must be initiated within 1 year of the date on which the claimant last furnished labor and/or materials to the project.

Pursuant to Puerto rico law, laborers and employees of contractors and subcontractors (and potentially actual subcontractors and suppliers as well) are allowed to make a claim against the payment bond, and providers of labor and/or materials to the project may make a claim against funds. Although any claim agains the project funds is limited to the funds the owner has not yet paid the GC.

It can be a good idea to send a Notice of Intent to Lien in order to jump-start the payment conversation without having to go to the time, effort, and expense of filing a lien (or multiple liens). Since a mechanics lien attaches to property, it is almost always the case that a different lien is required for each separate property improved (unless one of the very few exceptions apply).

In a case in which many many properties were improved and the amount due for each one may be relatively small, mechanics liens may not be the most efficient way to proceed. There is also the option to file a lawsuit for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, or some other cause of action to remedy the nonpayment situation.
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