If I’m a subcontractor and a homeowner has stopped payment on a check, what should be my next step?

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If I’m a subcontractor and a homeowner has stopped payment on a check, what should be my next step?

I am a subcontractor. I completed work on a residential home and the owner payed me via check. However they then canceled it within less than 24 hours, stating that the job was not to her satisfaction and since I’m a small business she decided to cancel her check to make me come back. I have warranty info on my website and on the back of my invoice for a 6 year term. I returned, showed her how I can fix her issue with the work and then discussed the need for payment. I also asked for a $50 returned check fee (which again is listed on the invoice). She refused to pay; I mentioned court. What should be my next step – placing a lien on the homeowner’s home, small claims court, etc?

Asked on August 10, 2011 Colorado

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you are a sub-contractor on a job overseen by the general contractor, you need to discuss the stop payment situation with him or her by the homeowner. As the general contractor, he or she is responsible for getting you paid for the sub-contract work.

If you have pre-liened the work of improvement, or have not done so, you need to start the process to get a mechanic's lien in place as one of the subcontractors on the job and perfect your lien for work done.

Placing a mechanic's lien on the work of improvement may change the property owner's mind about paying you for your services.

Another option would be to file sued to foreclose on the mechanic's lien and also for services rendered against the homeowner.

If you are not paid soon and the amount owed is substantial, for example in excess of $10,000, you should consult with a real estate attorney experienced with mechanics liens.

Good luck.


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