Not getting paid.....then returning to Reclaim materials that you were never paid for

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by SouthernYankee, Nov 30, 2004.

  1. SouthernYankee

    SouthernYankee LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 789

    Has anyone not been paid for a job that you spread mulch or planted shrubs and then gone back to the home to reclaim your goods?

    I know of a guy whom didnt get paid for a bobcat job and parked his machine outside the property and was about to tear it up, when the guy came out with a check...

    Any good stories...please post SY
  2. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Messages: 8,745

    I actually think that you can get into big trouble for that
  3. PTOhioMower

    PTOhioMower LawnSite Member
    Messages: 197

    How can you get into trouble? Isnt it like a repo?

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    Never did quite that, but... when I worked for another LCO, we had a customer stiff us for $700. Guy wouldn't pay, taunted us, gave us the runaround. Well, we realized we'd never met the guy in person, and HE DID own this nice Thai restaurant that was doing a brisk one day my boss and I went over for lunch. Ate lunch, got the check, my boss tells the waitress "I'm not paying until I speak with the owner" First she brings out the head waiter, then finally drags the boss out of his office. "Is there a problem with the food, Sir?" "Well, no, lunch was very nice. It's just that YOU OWE ME $700, WHEN IN THE #@^&% ARE YOU GOING TO PAY ME MY $700!!!" That seemed to work, it was lunchtime, very crowded, Mr. Thai Guy didn't want a scene. Took my boss into his office, to emerge a few minutes later with a check for $700.

    I don't remember if we payed for lunch or not...
  5. MidAtlantic

    MidAtlantic LawnSite Member
    Messages: 123

    I take contracts seriously. Contracts are there to protect the customer and contractor. So if its not in writing you can sure bet you wont have any rights to it in court. I have spent years and $1000's on layers trying to make everything full proof and enforceable. Bottom line make your contract "PRO" Contractor so you get paid. If the customer doesn't sign it you might not want to do business with them.

    If your serious about about collecting your money here is my "NO PAY NO PLAY" clause...Its not word for word but will give you an idea..Make sure you have a clause in your contract that states the customer grants you ingress and egress to the jobsite till project is complete. Project is not complete till final payment is paid if full. Owner hereby agrees that all installed and unistalled items on the jobsite are considered property of the Contractor till final payment is made. Contractor reserves the right to remove any installed or unistalled items during the course of the project.

    Oh make sure you have a copy of your contract when you go to enforce it. This way if the customer tries to get you for vandalism or trespassing you can show the police that you have been approved access and you are enforcing your right to remove your items. If it goes this far everybody looses.
  6. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,698

    The only problem with your contract MidAtlantic is it supersedes state and local law in my area. Landscaping materials are considered "building" materials. Once they are installed they are the property of the property owner. If you remove them you may be charged with theft. We recently had a case where a HVAC (ac) contractor removed a outside AC condenser unit because the homeowner hadn't paid up. The homeowner called the cops, the cops called the State's Attorney and the State's Attorney said to lock the contractor up.

    What you are doing is akin to going and breaking a man's legs over a debt just because you had him sign a contract that said you could break his legs if he didn't pay. The contract doesn't make it legal.
  7. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Messages: 8,745

    exactly like Richard said above is what I mean
  8. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,570

    it is illegal here as well.
    the remedy is to take him to court.
    here less than 5K is small claim-- no lawyers. the small claims usually favors the contractor.....
    take all your paperwork.
  9. ElephantNest

    ElephantNest LawnSite Bronze Member
    from La.
    Messages: 1,878

    My install contracts clearly state ALL materials used are the sole property of Liberty Lawn & Landscape until paid in full. Maybe the laws don't back me up, but it has worked flawlessly so far. They have signed something saying that whatever I may be caught taking is mine anyway, so the only real charge could be trespassing, and that is only enforceable if there are signs posted or if I was told to stay off of their property.

    About 7 years ago I repo'd a garden install. Guy comes running out yelling, I said screw you, my stuff, I'm taking it. He begged and pleaded, and finally got my to leave just the flowers, for his wife, and paid me with tools from his shed. I picked out a nice cordless drill among other things. Now, if he had been wise, he could have just said get off of my property, but he didn't, so I got 90% of my materials back, and paid for some of my work.
  10. MidAtlantic

    MidAtlantic LawnSite Member
    Messages: 123

    I understand that in most states coming back to a job after it is completed and "TAKING BACK" items is considered stealing. That is because YOU as the contractor have no contractual or written right to be onsite after your work is complete. Remember if its not in writing and is agreed upon you don't have a leg to walk on. This is why you have it finely outlined in your contract. It doesn't supersede any state laws cause the job is still open or in progress. I am not sure of the time line that this is enforceable but I am sure it is some where around the length of time a mechanics lien is enforceable.

    The key here is have the owner approve you access till the job is completed. Then agree that the job is considered not complete till final payment is made. And agree who's property the materials are till final completion. There is no law that says a contractor can not deliver or remove his materials as he wished during the course of the project.

    I am sure you have seen those payment draw clauses that state that if payment is not made promptly contractor has the right to stop all work, pull workers and materials from site till payment is made. And then hit them up with a stoppage penalty.

    Hopefully nobody ever gets to the point of enforcing it. Just kindly inform the customer that he is contractually obligated to pay you and that he has agreed to all penalties and collection procedures by signing the contract. That scare tactic alone should make them pay.. I wouldn't recommend enforcing any of those drastic measures on any customer. Its a no win situation for both parties. But just by having it I would assume it will weed out those people that know us contractors don't have the time to go to court with lawyers and collect debts under $1000. People that plan on paying shouldn't have a problem signing the contract.

    Ask a lawyer in your state if you are allowed to stop work and remove items from a job in progress if a customer dosen't pay. States laws have time limits for mechanic liens and job abandonment so check on those as well. Run this by him. You will find that you are not breaking any laws as long as you enforcing your contract within a timely manner.

    Oh it would be safe to say you should outline in your contract that any issues or discrepancies should be submitted in writing within so many days of completion. Most won't follow it but it keeps you covered in court.

Share This Page