Collecting payment when there is a dispute


My husband did a $931 built-up leak repair (no warranty) for a landlord. She sent us the contract just before a rain, and called wanting to know if we’d be able to get to it before the rain. We told her no since there is a 3 day right to cancel in California and we didn’t have time in our schedule anyway.

During the rain, she called and left a message that there was another leak. When he called back to get the skinny and make sure the tenant could let him in to look at the ceiling, the owner claimed the existing leak just got bigger. We think she just didn’t want to pay anymore than the original contract.

He fixed the leak (place on bldg. noted in contract). Now she is refusing to pay since he didn’t fix what was actually another leak. She told him that he should have seen the other leak without being told about it since he is a professional. He told her if she’d told him about it, it wouldn’t have cost much, but to tow the kettle out and heat it up takes a couple hours minimum. He was irritated that she tried to blame him for the mess her dishonesty created.

The last time we had trouble collecting on a job I asked a legal consultant in our builder’s assoc. and he recommended small claims. He said the mechanics lien process is too expensive because you have to take it to superior court within 30 days where you have to hire an attorney to represent you. I tried to get our supplier to send a mechanic’s lien notice, but the materials were under $1k.

Does anyone have any experience collecting payments under the amount needed for a mechanics lien? Should I try a collection agency or small claims? My husband doesn’t even want to talk to the owner after she insulted his professional skills, so it’s up to the company secretary (me)! I’d negotiate to fix the additional leak, if she paid us for the work we’ve already done.

One loose end: we haven’t called the city for the final inspection and still have the job card. Don’t know whether we should call & tell them what’s up, but not inclined to do more work if we won’t get paid. Can we hold the job card for any leverage, or should we get the final inspection before court? :x


Here is something I did for an employer once. I found it funny and still do but I do know if I would suggest doing it. Anyways, we did a repair once and I think it was around 600-700 dollars. I have no idea but I know he could not get a lein on it. Well, after not getting paid for a few months because of whatever reason he told them that since they did not pay for materials or labor we still own them and will take them back. Yep, you guessed it. He had us undo the repair. I dont know what happened after that, I left the company shortly their after but I still find it to be a good story to tell.


mechanic lein is the magic word when they are slow to pay.


i like this idea



i like this idea[/quote]

It’s a nice thought, but totally illegal, once materials are attached to the building.

If you do this, only do the verbal threat, but not the actual actions.



haha yeah i know Ed. I would never have any of my guys do that but I was an employee and I always did what I was told and didnt question it.

We just put a lein on someones house awhile ago because they did not want to pay since Febuary. The got a laywer involved saying that the job was not done correctly. They owed us only 1200 more. We got a rep from Alcoa to come out and look at it and he said it was done to specifications. Those people then had to pay us right away and a laywer. What I don’t understand is why people even want work done to their home if they do not want to pay. Irritating.