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Old 08-08-2005, 03:19 PM
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Collecting a delinquent account

I have a client who is 3 months behind on his payments for lawn maintenance. His service has been stopped, and I would like to know what legal options I have available to collect my money, just over $750. I am leaning (no pun intended) towards placing a lien on his house as it is for sale, however I am unsure where to begin the process and if I can do it myself. Any advice is appreciated.
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Old 08-08-2005, 04:32 PM
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Ick. Collecting debt from deadbeats, even though it hardly ever happens, always makes me want to get out of business.

Lien laws are different in every state, and exist to help construction trades collect for materials. I don't know if you can use the lien law for lawn service. Usually if you are the primary contractor, and did not subcontract the work, it is not necessary to include lien language in your contract to enforce the lien law. But, as part of our lien law, we must demonstrate that we have made a good effort to collect the debt.

You might try something like these, sent about 7 days apart.

INITIAL COLLECTION LETTER

Dear _____:

This letter is a friendly reminder that payment on your account in the amount of $________ on your account was due on ________. If you have already sent us your payment, kindly disregard this letter. If not, please send us your payment promptly.

Yours truly,

FOLLOW UP COLLECTION LETTER

Dear _____:

This is our second reminder that that payment on your account in the amount of $________ on your account was due on ________. We value your business and hope to keep you as a customer. However, we do require payment according to the terms of our invoices. Please send us your payment promptly.

Yours truly,

FINAL DEMAND COLLECTION LETTER

Dear _____:

This is our final reminder that that payment on your account in the amount of $________ on your account was due on ________. If we do not receive payment in full by _____, we will submit your account for collection.

Yours truly,

c.c. My Attorney
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Old 08-08-2005, 06:23 PM
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In our area it's fairly easy to place a lien. Not familiar with the laws in your locale... Knowing they are selling I would be running to the County Court House to file the papers.

Best place to start would be the county court house..... Assessor's office? I learned the process just by going in and being honest with the women (sorry ladies; in my area they are all women) behind the desk. If you do it right they will give you all kinds of wonderful information.

It's been a while but in the past I have placed a lien which included lien filing fees, lien removal fees, proper compensation for my time to put the lien on and remove the lien, and all late fees and finance charges. I also would turn them over to a collection agency if I wanted to have the situation reflected on their their credit.

Last edited by Nebraska; 08-08-2005 at 06:28 PM..
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Old 08-08-2005, 08:25 PM
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Lien first and ask questions later. With a restriction on title, they will have to resolve it first prior to closing, and often the title company will call first asking what it will cost to release the lien. In some cases, they won't even argue the amount because they need to get out of their home and it is not worth the headache to them. I have also been known to send Christmas cards with the inscription, God bless you in this joyous season Deadbeat! It works 2 out of 3 times. Yet one other time I sent a biker buddy of mine in his colors to very politely ask for payment. that worked as well.

there is no shame in getting what is owed you any legal way you can, even if it sits in a grey area.
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Old 08-08-2005, 08:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bill Schwab
Yet one other time I sent a biker buddy of mine in his colors to very politely ask for payment. that worked as well.
This is great, I will remember this one. I have felt like doing something like this before. Haven't we all??
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Old 08-08-2005, 08:44 PM
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If at all possible, try to make it a weekly bill.
You guys are in the area so knock on the door for payment
once a week. The larger the debt becomes the hiding practices
improve. People hate to pay $600 in a clip for lawn service,
but $30 a week is affordable. Knock on the door when you are done or at least before your next visit get paid for 2 weeks.
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Old 08-08-2005, 08:49 PM
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I spoke with an attorney in the neighborhood this evening and he questions whether or not I will be able to place a lien since i have not "added value". I am going to look into it tomorrow and if I am not able to lien, he told me of a way to force a small claims court judgement to be cleared prior to selling their house. Thanks for the help all, hopefully this will work out.
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Old 08-08-2005, 09:00 PM
Mac Mac is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by HardDaysKnight
If at all possible, try to make it a weekly bill.
You guys are in the area so knock on the door for payment
once a week. The larger the debt becomes the hiding practices
improve. People hate to pay $600 in a clip for lawn service,
but $30 a week is affordable. Knock on the door when you are done or at least before your next visit get paid for 2 weeks.
They moved out to San Diego 3 months ago, so unfortunately I am not able to hassle them as easily. I can only imagine the financial strain they are under with 2 homes plus the cost of living in CA, but Ive finally seen through this debtor's rediculous tactics.
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Old 08-08-2005, 09:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bill Schwab
Yet one other time I sent a biker buddy of mine in his colors to very politely ask for payment. that worked as well.
A old builder friend of mine stopped by the newly constructed home of the person that owed him $30K. My builder friend had a sledgehammer in his hands. He said "I've come to collect the money you owe me." To show he was serious, he took a piece of the door frame out with the sledge. He left a few minutes later, check in hand. How he didn't end up in jail is beyond me.
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Old 08-08-2005, 09:36 PM
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Try olddebts.com . I've used them to collect from three deadbeats this year with their $6.95 package.
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Old 08-08-2005, 10:19 PM
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I bet if you sent a letter threatening a lien (even if you can't actually file one in your case) you'd get paid immediately.
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Old 08-08-2005, 11:00 PM
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I'm with SpiderLily...Ugh. I've been fortunate that I haven't had to deal with this much.

It's not your problem that this guy can't pay his lawn maintenance bills because he has two homes and he lives in CA. I have had pretty good luck with sticking a letter with the past due bill stating I will be turning this matter over to my attorney if I don't get payment by X date.

Do you have a contract with this guy? I've learned that I don't do any work without my signed agreement stating the terms of payment and what would happen if payment isn't fullfilled. That way, if something did end up heading to court or whatever, I have something with their signature on it binding it to the work I've done or given them.

Good luck!!
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Old 08-09-2005, 01:06 AM
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If he can afford a home in San Diego, he can pop for the $750.00. With rising equity in a home here, he can pull a refi and pay all his debts. What is this guys name, just in case he calls me...I'll add the amount he owes onto his bill and send it to you....
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In the year 1491, if the Naturescape Landscape Company did the site work in Pisa, Italy, they would not be calling it the "leaning" tower.

Encinitas, Ca. 92024

www.naturescapelandscape.com

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