If I repaired a roof for a customer and they don’t pay me what they owe, could I seek legal recourse?

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If I repaired a roof for a customer and they don’t pay me what they owe, could I seek legal recourse?

I recently repaired a roof for a customer and we had agreed to pay half up front, half after job completion. I had put up front out of my company’s account what remained to complete the job. After completion the customer refused to pay the remaining balance. What can I do to regain what is owed?

Asked on June 1, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

In this instance you can place a "Mechanic's Lien" on the property. Such liens can be filed by contractors who have perfomed work on a property and who have not been paid. The steps for doing this vary from state-to-state but typically you can file such a lien at the end of the project after non-payment. However, you can notify the owner with a "Notice of Intent to Lien" first. While not usually a required document, it is frequently used as it gives the owner one more chance to pay up before having a lien recorded. To record a lien, a "Mechanic's Lien Affidavit" must be filed the County Clerk’s Office in the county in which the property in question is located. Then the affidavit must be served on the property owner within than 5 days of filing. If payment has still not been made within the time provided, a lawsuit to foreclose on the Mechanic's Lien can be filed (or else you waive your right to further enforce the lien). As this can get a bit confusing, you may want to consult directly with a real estate attorney in your area; they can best further advise you. 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You sue the customer: that's how you get money another owes you. You would sue for both of--
1) Breach of contract, or violating the agreement between you that you would do the work in exchange for a certain amount of money; since you did your part (the work), the customer is then contractually obligated to do his part (and pay in full).
2) "Unjust enrichment": for getting the benefit of your work without paying for it.


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