Made a mistake

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by MJK, Sep 23, 2012.

  1. muddywater

    muddywater LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,813

    I would try to scare him into paying first. The lien is the cheapest way to get your money, but could take the longest. Hopefully when he gets a certified letter in the mail it will scare him into paying. I can help give you an idea of how to get this process started, but I live in a different state than you so it might not be the exact same process.

    The other option is get a lawyer to send him a letter telling him you will take him to small claims court. This might scare him into paying.

    The lien version worked for me last year. I ended up almost going to court to make the lien permanent, but they paid before that happened.
  2. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,619

    In most states that's easier said than done.

    In order to put a lien on a property, all owners listed on the deed must sign the agreement. So if the agreement is in my name and I sign it, but our house is deeded to both myself and my wife - you can't put a valid, sticking lien on the property as my wife didnt agree to the work done. Doin so is called "defamation of title".

    So with that said - I go to the real data website and I write my contracts so they are in the name of all parties listed on the deed :)

    Also, in this day and age - us little old contractors would have last dibs on any money if and when the property is sold. So many properties are under water, the property worth less than is owed. If the property were sold - it's unlikely and secondary lien holders would see a dime. I plan on living in my home till I die. Put all the liens on my house you want, the check is in the mail........after I'm dead!

    Best thing to do is be sneaky. Catch the guy in person at home on a Sunday morning around 10:30 am. Trust me, he will totally be off guard. So much so, that he won't be able to talk straight.

    Something else I do is I will use cell phones of my personal friends when I call people that owe me money. Many of my friends have company issued cell phones. I'm in MD, but I have one friend with a cell phone with a Philly PA number and another friend with an Illinois number. This trick almost ALWAYS trips up the customer! And if it doesnt work - no biggie, the customer doesnt know that the Illinois number was me trying to call. SO I then wait it out a few days and pay them a weekend visit.

    Another thought - here it is 7:22 PM sunday evening. I'm home, you're probably home, and all my neighbors are home. This is also a perfect time for an unannounced visit. Think about it, use psychology - most everyone's mind is on preparing to return to work in the morning, the last thing we're thinking about is Andrew Hardscape coming out for a visit.

    Another option is to pay the client a visit at work (if you know where they work). I have done this once, the lady wrote me a check on a closed checking acct. And I know another member here made a work place collection visit and was successful in obtaining payment.

    Please keep us posted and let us know what happens. I love this kind of stuff!
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
  3. muddywater

    muddywater LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,813

    Yeah a lien is a pain in the butt. I would try all of Andrew's suggestions first.

    I was successful with a lien last year for a GC building a church. I went to the courthouse in the town the work was done and found a "perfect" lien and copied it to the "t" and then had a lawyer verify it. I placed the lien, sent certified letter to church and GC. Then waited. You have up to a year to make the lien permanent. This requires getting a lawyer and filing suit. About 8 months into it, I got my lawyer to call the bond company and tell them we were filing suit. They talked to him for a week or so then refused his phone calls. Then he made a motion to set a court date. Bond company called the NEXT day and wanted to settle. I spend about a grand with the lawyer filing suit, we went back to the bond company and told them we would need 1k more not to file suit to cover the lawyer fees.

    I finally got the check for $7000. So liens do work, but they are alot of work!
  4. muddywater

    muddywater LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,813

    I am also trying to find a lawyer now that I can keep a "demand letter" on file to send to clients that don't want to pay. I mainly have trouble with lawn maintenance clients now. That way I will pay for the letter once and have it on file...
  5. jbailey52

    jbailey52 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,095

    Maybe it's your location, I can only find tandem loads of topsoil for $20/ yard delivered.
  6. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,619

    (spoken in a motivational tone) There is absolutely NO reason for you to be allowing residential customers to owe you any money for mowing services in this day and age.

    This is 2012. All your residential mowing customers need to be on credit card payments. You debit their card within 24 hrs of servicing the lawn. If the card doesnt go through - you dont mow anymore until it does. This way they are not racking up 4 mowings and not paying.

    My lawn mowing customers - all on credit card. No checks to bounce, no returned check fees, no sending out monthly invoices, and no waiting for payment. Credit cards dont bounce and incurr returned check fees. They either go through or they don't!

    And customers LOVE the convience of not having to write and send you a check each month.

  7. muddywater

    muddywater LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,813

    Id have to switch 200 clients over, and 2% is alot of money considering that is 10% of my profit margin
  8. MJK

    MJK LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 356

    Can you expand on the real data website?
  9. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,619

    200 customers is nothing. There are 2 guys here at Lawnsite doing over $3 mil in residential mowing all paid via credit card.

    2 percent is nothing either. You spend that much in postage and envelopes each month, if not more.

    Gotta think outside the box.
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  10. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,619

    This is usually offered by the state or by the county.

    Maryland Gov't has a site that lists every single piece of real estate in the state.
    Here is the link:
    To see how it works, click on Montgomery County, then type in RIVER for the street address. Then from
    There all properties on River Road will come up.

    In VA, the real data sites are provided by the individual counties, not the state. Here is an example:

    So if your county or state even has a real data web site , you need to do a google search. Use words like "real property data" "real property tax records", "real property records".
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