Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

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Hippster237
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Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by Hippster237 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:36 pm

Hello - I’m looking for some feedback on a situation I’ve found myself in the middle of. I recently hired a contractor I found on a Craigslist. The work totalled less than 1k, with 1/4 due at signing, 1/4 due at the start of the job, and the remainder due upon completion. The contract was written by hand on an invoice note, without the kind of verbiage a binding contract would typically include (ex. verbiage around the opportunity to rescind within 3 days of signing). The contract simply noted the work to be done, the start date, and the amount owed when. I wrote the first check at signing.

Based on the contract, the work was scheduled to commence a couple days later. I took time away from work to make the agreed upon date work. The contractor was a no show. After an hour of waiting, I sent a text to check ETA and was told the contractor was in an accident but could complete the job in the next couple days. I accommodated the reschedule. When the contractor showed up at the newly agreed upon date, he told me that he would need a check greater than what we originally agreed upon. I agreed willingly to write him a check for almost double what was stated in the contract. He left to get the parts and later texted that he was unable to cash the check (since it was Sunday) and asked me to meet him at the store with cash (in place of the check). I advised that I would meet him at the store and we could pay with my credit card. He advised me that was not an option - he needed cash or would need to complete the work another day.

After trying to accommodate the contractor in multiple ways, I started to feel uneasy. I asked that he return the second check and the money from the first check, already cashed. I offered to meet him at the store to collect. He initially just responded with a picture of the torn up check (and didn’t address my follow up request to return so that I could shred). Later, he told me he would return the cash already withdrawn by a certain date. That date came and went. After I followed up, he advised me that, after talking with his attorney, I was in breach of contract and was to pay him the full price for the job. And, if I didn’t comply, I would be liable for 3x the amount of the job and a lien would be placed on my house.

I did not respond to this, thinking his endgame may be to get me to drop the request to return the first payment. When I didn’t respond, he escalated with a picture (via text) of some sort of legal notice he appeared to have haphazardly put together. At that point, I asked that he send me his attorney’s contact information so that my attorney could reach out to discuss. He followed that up with more threats about how much he could sue for, etc.

My feeling is that:
a. We didn’t have a legally binding contract.
b. He breached the contract first and on a couple occasions.
c. I made several reasonable efforts upon his breach to continue with the work. I didn’t breach until after I had made those efforts.
d. While I don’t agree with him keeping the initial installment, I am willing to walk away from that sum of money (less than $200), having learned a tough lesson. What I absolutely do not agree with is paying for the job in full, let alone a multiplier of the total.

I feel his text messages have been threatening (but nothing that seemingly warrants police involvement). All who have been briefed on the situation see many flaws with his argument. But as I sit in this uncertainty (I’ve never dealt with anything like this before), I thought I would reach out to this forum for any feedback you might have (other than simply not to hire off of Craigslist without solid references - trust me, I feel like an idiot).

Thanks in advance. And I apologize for the book.
Last edited by Hippster237 on Sat Jun 16, 2018 8:48 am, edited 3 times in total.

OnTrack2020
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by OnTrack2020 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:01 pm

Uuugggghhhhhh! I can't answer any of your questions, however, are you willing to deal with him in small claims court? How much money are we talking about that he won't return?

Sounds extremely shady. Also, and I know that we ourselves have taken chances before with contractors, but when you were planning to meet him at the store, that would have been an excellent time to pay for the materials yourself. That way you know where the money went.

It sounds as if he is trying to get you to pay him (idle threats) and doesn't want to return the money. You really do not want this guy to do any work for you, do you?

Does he have any on-line reviews that you've been able to read, contractor's license, etc.?

ddurrett896
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by ddurrett896 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:05 pm

Call your states DPOR (Department of Professions)

From what you mentioned, I bet he could face $10,000+ in fines (at least in my state).

Not have a legit contract - fine.
Not having business license # on contract - fine.
No scope of work with date - fine.
No addendum when dates were missed - fine.

Had one issue with a contractor and as soon as I mentioned the words DPOR, he was at my house in less than an hour and issue fixed the next day.

Rupert
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by Rupert » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:09 pm

He's likely making an idle threat, and, given his overall sketchiness, I doubt he's spoken to (let alone has his own) attorney. How much money have you already given him, and how strongly do you feel you need to get that money back? If a small amount that you're willing to write off to life experience, I would likely ignore him for now. If a small amount but getting it back is important to you, small claims court is an option. If a large amount, you should speak to an attorney yourself. One threatening letter from an attorney will likely be enough to scare him away.

123
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by 123 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:11 pm

Does your state require contractors to be licensed? Is he currently licensed (some contractors "forget" to renew)? Many states have online systems that let you check the status of a contractors license.
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TSR
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by TSR » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:18 pm

Lawyer here. I am absolutely not giving you legal advice because I don't know what state you live in, nor have I read the "contract," but I'll give an at-first-blush personal opinion:

There is a good chance that you had a binding contract of some sort or at least an enforceable promise (although there may be many ways to argue that you did not), and there's an even better chance that he breached it, early and often. Most importantly, the guy does not appear to have ever done any work, and he's attempted to change the terms of the agreement in material ways. He has an obligation to proceed in good faith under the agreement, and he plainly has not while you plainly have. No judge/jury in the world would hold you liable for not giving him money that was not provided for under the agreement after he did no work.

None of this is to say that he couldn't make your life miserable, or make you spend lots in attorney fees (possibly both). Indeed, a lot of these are factual questions that might require a deposition to resolve. But if such a person did sue me, I would revel in counterclaiming the, ahem, heck out of the guy. You will never collect on such a counterclaim, mind you, but I'd be real tempted to take my judgment and put a lien on his property and/or garnish what limited pay he's receiving (easier said than done, and it all costs money to get an attorney to do stuff like this). If he does this sort of thing regularly (I'm guessing he does), he' may proceed in small-claims court in the hopes that your attorney is scared off by that unusual venue. Don't fall for it. In fact, small-claims court could be pretty interesting, because you can do a lot of it yourself and the damages are likely limited to the jurisdictional maximum. Not your best use of time, of course.

I'd start making sure that your paper trail is good. If you've been texting, keep all of them - screenshot, etc. Best of luck. This sounds miserable.

Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:25 pm

Rule #1: The best contractor to use is one where they are referred by others who've used them.
Rule #2: Craigslist is not the best source of contractor referrals.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

researcher
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by researcher » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:26 pm

Hippster237 wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:36 pm
I recently hired a contractor I found on a Craigslist.
The contract was written by hand on an invoice note, without the kind of verbiage a binding contract would typically include
The contractor was a no show....was told the contractor was in and accident but could complete the job in the next couple days.
When the contractor shows up at the newly agree upon date, he told me that he would need a check greater than what we originally agreed upon.
He left to get the parts and later texted that he was unable to cash the check (since it was Sunday)
I advised that I would meet him at the store and we could pay with my credit card.
He advised me that was not an option - he needed cash or would need to complete the work another day.
Re-read the key parts of your post I noted above.
This guy is CLEARLY a scammer.

I think you should have ZERO concern about his lawsuit threat.
He is clearly bluffing, hoping to scare you into giving him money to feed a drug habit or pay off debt collectors.

What you should be concerned about is whether he truly tore up the second check, and whether he will show back up at your house and cause further trouble.

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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:28 pm

If he shows up at your house again - call the POLICE!
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

ResearchMed
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by ResearchMed » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:49 pm

FIRST: I am not an attorney, etc.

Depending upon the amount of money, I'd at least get one consult with an attorney (and if for no other reason than having a real attorney's name to pass along to contractor).

This is a scam, plain and simple.

As for the triple damages?
Any state I've been in, triple damages meant "consumer fraud", which meant fraud AGAINST a consumer, not "by" a consumer.
(Think about it; he hasn't spent any money or done any work, but he has at least some of your money. What's his loss?? He clearly isn't forgoing other work; it sounds like he isn't doing anything much at all, ahem...)

Small claims court is probably just right for this, if the dollar amount allows.
It's relatively easy (albeit not pleasant, but think of it as .. an adventure?), and in most states, no attorneys are allowed. It should be quite simple to present your evidence and explanations, and... see how his "tale" fares....

You also might need that attorney for a restraining order, but I hope not.

What a mess!

BTW, I DID once need to file a "consumer fraud" suit. It got really technical, as the guy hid his assets in a blind trust.
We were able to pierce that veil, due to the obvious fraud.
I got all attorney's fees and, yes, triple damages.
(But at the time, we didn't know that would be the outcome, of course.)

RM
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Beehave
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by Beehave » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:51 pm

I am not a lawyer - - below are my suggestions.

Time to talk to (an aggressive) lawyer. I'm not experienced at this sort of thing but I'd think a good lawyer would be able to figure out a way to let this contractor come to the conclusion that it would be wise to drop the whole matter by signing an agreement that your lawyer has written. I'd think that some verbal or written persuasion involving the future ability of the contractor to work (licensure?), get bonded, not have to deal with questions about compliance with various things (e.g., tax laws), a countersuit or something of those sorts might be effective and that a good lawyer would know how to do this.

Good luck... and a situation well-worth posting as a warning, so thanks. Hope this works out quickly and well. If it costs some non-excessive amount of dough to put this to bed, I'd suggest holding your nose and paying (as little as possible) rather than standing on principle and having it consume lots of time and negative energy.

P.S. Do not settle without an appropriate release from this person. Make sure from your lawyer that the release is full, binding, and is coming from the correct party. I am not a lawyer so all that I'm writing here is just my suggestion of things to consider. But in that vein, if the purported "contract" on which the agreement is based is between you and a corporation then the release from the contract should be (I believe) signed by a person AS an officer of that company ("Joe Blow, President, No-Show Contracting, Inc."). If the purported contract was between you and Joe Blow, then any release should be signed by Jow blow, the individual -- no title, no corp. If, on the original purported contract there is a mismatch between the signature and any letterhead (for example, if the letterhead names a company but it was signed by Joe Blow as an individual and not with some title as an officer or member of that company) that might be something worth pointing out to your attorney. As I understand it (and again, this is NOT legal advice but something to look into) if someone signs on corporate letterhead without specifying their title and affiliation, they are taking on personal responsibility for the contract. If the contractor did this it may be a problem for them.

Again, good luck - - and also - - when I began writing this only one prior response showed. This took me a while so forgive anything in here that is repetitious, inferior, or wrong based on any posts above... just trying to help as best I can with an exasperating situation.

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lthenderson
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by lthenderson » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:58 pm

As someone who sometimes dabbles in this kind of work, I generally find a way to sympathize with the contractor because I know how overbearing homeowners can be at times. However, I don't think I can in this case, at least not as presented. If this had happened to me, I would be calculating how much a lawyer would cost me to resolve the issue in my favor versus how much money I've lost and chose the cheapest path. Often times, the cheapest path is kissing the money you've paid goodbye and chalking it up as a lesson on the hard knocks of life.

ResearchMed
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by ResearchMed » Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:04 pm

lthenderson wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:58 pm
As someone who sometimes dabbles in this kind of work, I generally find a way to sympathize with the contractor because I know how overbearing homeowners can be at times. However, I don't think I can in this case, at least not as presented. If this had happened to me, I would be calculating how much a lawyer would cost me to resolve the issue in my favor versus how much money I've lost and chose the cheapest path. Often times, the cheapest path is kissing the money you've paid goodbye and chalking it up as a lesson on the hard knocks of life.
I'd agree, especially since it sounds like it wasn't "a lot" of money (but we don't know for sure).

But in this unfortunate case, kissing the money goodbye doesn't seem likely to end the problem, a real nightmare.
And I'd also worry whether the guy was, er, stable, and if there was any risk to safety if he got really ticked off or whatever...

Can you google him?
Also look for lawsuits?
Or police record?
And yes, check for a license, if not today, then Monday.

Good luck!

RM
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delamer
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by delamer » Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:10 pm

If he hasn’t already cashed any checks written, put a stop payment on them.

With mobile deposit, you can deposit a check and then tear it up.

Hippster237
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by Hippster237 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:16 pm

Thank you all for the quick and very detailed replies! Just responding to a couple of the posted questions and providing additional detail:
-I’m located in a suburb of Columbus, OH.
-I have looked to see if this person has a license. At first glance, I’m not finding anything for him/his company.
-Is a permit generally needed to build out attic storage? I suspect the answer varies by location.
-I have made peace with walking away from the first payment (cashed check) - unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be enough for this contractor, given the escalating text messages he’s been sending.
-I have located a complaint against him on the BBB site, but haven’t found much else via Google.
-I did contact my bank this morning regarding a stop payment on the check that was ripped up.
-I am concerned for my safety, but have not received any threats that I feel the police would entertain.

-buzz-
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by -buzz- » Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:17 pm

Hippster237 wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:36 pm
After I followed up, he advised me that, after talking with his attorney, I was in breach of contract and was to pay him the full price for the job. And, if I didn’t comply, I would be liable for 3x the amount of the job and a lien would be placed on my house.
...
He followed that up with more threats about how much he could sue for, etc.
It sounds like the job was under $1,000 and so you are currently out $250 or less.

Stop payment on that second check right away. In my opinion, it would be worth the fee to ensure the check doesn't get cashed later.

It was better for you to find out the clown was incompetent before he started work than have to pay someone else to fix whatever he screwed up.

He won't sue. Even if he did, he won't win. He never even started the job because he didn't show up and was unwilling to perform the job under the original terms of the agreement.

You could sue him in small claims court for breach of contract. The problem is that if you win, you still have to collect from him. That will most likely be difficult. Shady contractors working for cash are typically broke and won't have a source of wages you can garnish.

I think you just learned a ~$250 lesson.

Side note: I have had good success using Angie's List to find contractors when I didn't know one. I look for one with lots of reviews and haven't been disappointed yet.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by Sandtrap » Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:18 pm

"Contractor" will have to engage legal counsel or file a claim to initiate proceedings. At best, a letter from legal counsel.
All of this requires intelligence, costs money, and a fundamental understanding of contract law, contractors and trades laws and practices in your state, and so forth. (sounds like he does not have this).

The "Contractor" has a little leg to stand on if he is a licensed, bonded, and insured contractor in the state with a verifiable excellent reputation and documented history of success. (sounds like he does not have this).

Steps.
00. Discontinue all work and all exchanges. Tell the contractor you want to stop everything and need a week to gather your thoughts and will get back to him. . . Then. . .
0. Stop payment all funds given. Pay and take delivery of any materials due you. Square everything up to date as best you can on your end. Then. . .
1. Document everything in writing. Texts. Emails. Hardcopy. Verbal conversation recaps. Pictures. Receipts of materials and funds paid. Etc. From the moment of first contact to present.
2. Take all this documentation and seek legal counsel ASAP. Have legal counsel send a letter out to clear the air and make this go away ASAP. Most of the time all it will take is one letter. On an hourly basis, not much cost and well worth it.
3. Given all that I've brought up, the "contractor" will likely not follow up, given the lack of resources $$, etc. He does not have money to hire legal counsel.
4. Learn a good lesson for not much money. Next time hire a licensed, bonded, insured, contractor with a verified reputation in the community for excellent work and business practice.
5. Finally, never be intimidated when someone threatens lawsuit. It takes money and savvy to do it and follow through, let alone succeed. "Anyone can sue for a ham sandwich. . . but can they win. . . can they collect. . . do they have the funds to win. . . "

aloha,
j

ResearchMed
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by ResearchMed » Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:30 pm

Hippster237 wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:16 pm
Thank you all for the quick and very detailed replies! Just responding to a couple of the posted questions and providing additional detail:
-I’m located in a suburb of Columbus, OH.
-I have looked to see if this person has a license. At first glance, I’m not finding anything for him/his company.
-Is a permit generally needed to build out attic storage? I suspect the answer varies by location.
-I have made peace with walking away from the first payment (cashed check) - unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be enough for this contractor, given the escalating text messages he’s been sending.
-I have located a complaint against him on the BBB site, but haven’t found much else via Google.
-I did contact my bank this morning regarding a stop payment on the check that was ripped up.
-I am concerned for my safety, but have not received any threats that I feel the police would entertain.
If you feel at ALL intimidated, then if you didn't get one appointment with an attorney yet, do it ASAP.
Have them send "the appropriate letter", customized for your situation.
Include a directive not to contact you, but only attorney (or let your attorney advise on this, for starters).

BBB is useless, but there's probably no harm in reporting there.
You want to report him to licensing boards or other official organizations.
They might have some clout, but even if not, at least you've got it logged.
You may find that you aren't the first to report him (?).

Also look at something called "Rip Off Report" website, to see if others have had experiences.
If you can find some others, you might get a sense of whether he escalates, or just tries to get "more" and then vanishes.

Good luck.

Oh... find someone with a personal recommendation about an attorney.
They aren't immune to "scams", alas, although I'd like to think mostly the worst would be some level of incompetence, as can be found anywhere.

RM
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Hippster237
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by Hippster237 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:33 pm

Thank you - To be clear, the BBB is where I found a pretty damning complaint about the contractor (it’s not related to my personal experience).

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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by staythecourse » Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:43 pm

I am not a lawyer, but seems the agreement was to start on x date. He did not and you agreed together to start on y date. He couldn't due to needing funds to purchase z equipment which you agreed. You gave him the ability via credit card to purchase the z equipment to start on y date and he backed out. Looks like he is the one who is breach of contract.

Personally, these are times I like to be vindictive. There is no money to be made for a lawyer on this case so if he chooses he will have to pay one on an hourly basis. I would be fine escalating it just to see him incur legal fees for a project worth less then 1k. Then I would make sure I gave him poor reviews on EVERY internet site. That will amount to MUCH LARGER lost wages then the 1k in work.

Good luck.
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by iamlucky13 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:44 pm

I second the question about licensing. If you haven't find out if he is licensed and whether he is required to be. Different states have different departments responsible for the records, but I think most states have online lookup of anyone they license.

State laws vary. Work requiring a permit or inspection often requires a licensed contractor (doesn't apply to homeowner). Work exceeding a certain value may require even handymen to have a license, bonding and insurance.

State laws on liens also vary, but I don't think he can place a lien on your home unless he actually started doing something, or at least dropped off materials for the job at your home.

The guy refusing to allow you to pay for materials needed to start sounds really bizarre, and his texting of legal notices is almost a joke.

Did he make any coherent and at least plausible claims about your alleged violation of contract? I honestly don't see how he could have. You have the invoice indicating work scope and start date (offer), payment schedule (consideration), and your signatures (acceptance). I don't know for certain how a court would treat it, but it has the basic elements of a valid contract, of which your obligation is the payments that you did convey, and I suppose as a practical matter, accommodating his start date, which you also did. What other term is there left for you to breach? You can't have failed to pay at completion since he didn't complete.

He proposed (even if informally), modified terms (new start date, higher start payment), but it's not clear to me if any of those terms are even in writing. Perhaps he could try to claim your check is acceptance of those unclear terms, but even if we make the dubious assumption the later start date and higher start payment were validly contracted, it seems pretty clear you fulfilled your obligations.

Personally, my next response would probably be either

1) If protecting others from him is more important than getting your money back (hopefully both happen): Immediately review contractor laws in your state and contact the responsible agency (In Washington, it's called Labor and Industries) to complain about any violations, starting with failure to perform the contracted and partially paid for work, and possibly including working without a required license.

2) If you want the money back, write him a letter stating you upheld the condition placed on you in the contract to make partial payment up front to retain his services, had made generous re-accommodations for his original failure to start, and that you consider him in breach of contract and to have forfeited all payments. Therefore, you intend to contact (name of relevant state agency) unless the prior payments totaling ($ value) are returned to you within 3 days, and will consider further measures to protect your interests as you may determine necessary.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by Sandtrap » Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:48 pm

staythecourse wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:43 pm
I am not a lawyer, but seems the agreement was to start on x date. He did not and you agreed together to start on y date. He couldn't due to needing funds to purchase z equipment which you agreed. You gave him the ability via credit card to purchase the z equipment to start on y date and he backed out. Looks like he is the one who is breach of contract.

Personally, these are times I like to be vindictive. There is no money to be made for a lawyer on this case so if he chooses he will have to pay one on an hourly basis. I would be fine escalating it just to see him incur legal fees for a project worth less then 1k. Then I would make sure I gave him poor reviews on EVERY internet site. That will amount to MUCH LARGER lost wages then the 1k in work.

Good luck.
+1
Great minds think alike. . . . :shock:

In the great majority, 99%, of my limited experience of someone threatening a lawsuit or receiving an initial letter from someone's legal counsel, a follow up response, or initial legal communique has ended the matter. Good legal counsel is not cheap. Who's willing pay and for how long makes a difference.
j

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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by iamlucky13 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:02 pm

I guess I let my prior post sit too long after composing before proof-reading and submitting, since this and several others were submitted meanwhile:
Hippster237 wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:16 pm
-I have looked to see if this person has a license. At first glance, I’m not finding anything for him/his company.
-Is a permit generally needed to build out attic storage? I suspect the answer varies by location.
....
-I am concerned for my safety, but have not received any threats that I feel the police would entertain.
- It looks like the website for the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board has a search tool. However, Ohio has relatively limited statewide licensing requirements that probably don't apply. You'll need to find out the requirements for your city (building or planning department)

- If you add on to the house, alter the structure, or alter the weather envelop (roofing, windows, doors, and siding, or major repairs to those) you might need a permit, and he might need a license. If the plan was just to store stuff in your attic on shelves or in cabinets and maybe enclose an area with walling or flooring materials that are not primary load bearing structures (such as laying plywood or planking across the existing joists/lower truss members), it probably doesn't need a permit, although keep in mind some spaces are not designed for significant loads.

- If you're seriously concerned, let your neighbors know what he looks like, what he drives, and ask them to tell you if they see him.

researcher
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by researcher » Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:30 pm

Hippster237 wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:33 pm
Thank you - To be clear, the BBB is where I found a pretty damning complaint about the contractor (it’s not related to my personal experience).
You are getting lots of bad advice to seek legal counsel.
There is absolutely no need to contact a lawyer.
This guy has ZERO intention of bringing legal action against you.

He is just a scammer who is desperate to score quick/easy cash to feed a drug habit, pay a gambling debt, payday loan, ect.
This is very clear based on the facts you presented in your original post.

The only action you may need to take is contacting law enforcement, if the threats/harassment continues.
The best resolution you could hope for is that he soon moves on to his next scam.

mouses
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by mouses » Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:41 pm

Don't forget to post bad reviews.

dknightd
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by dknightd » Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:49 pm

"Based on the contract, the work was scheduled to commence a couple days later. "

Stop payments on all checks you wrote. Unless the "contract" included acts of god

denovo
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by denovo » Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:59 pm

123 wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:11 pm
Does your state require contractors to be licensed? Is he currently licensed (some contractors "forget" to renew)? Many states have online systems that let you check the status of a contractors license.
+!
"Don't trust everything you read on the Internet"- Abraham Lincoln

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celia
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by celia » Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:29 pm

This guy is not a licensed contractor. Contractors depend on good reviews/referrals and no complaints with the licensing board for their livelihood to continue. The fact that he does not have a professional credit line at the supply store is a red flag. Contractors often need to be bonded and insured for getting hurt on the job. (I insist on knowing their coverage for anything done that is not done on solid ground.) This guy obviously can not afford any of this.

Report him to the licensing board! He gives real contractors a bad name.

He cannot put a lien on your property without a court order, and he won't be able to prove he did the work for you. I doubt he would even be able to afford the filing fees.

He is also a bad scammer. An experienced one would know that he first needs to buy supplies and how much they should cost before he signs "a contract". Not being able to afford minimal supplies doesn't get him very far.

However, since you appear to be out only $250, any extra time or money you spend on this will be a further loss, IMO. Put a stop on any outstanding checks and move on.

J295
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by J295 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 10:25 pm

Scam. Ignore him and move on.

diy60
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by diy60 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:06 pm

researcher wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:30 pm
Hippster237 wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:33 pm
Thank you - To be clear, the BBB is where I found a pretty damning complaint about the contractor (it’s not related to my personal experience).
You are getting lots of bad advice to seek legal counsel.
There is absolutely no need to contact a lawyer.
This guy has ZERO intention of bringing legal action against you.

He is just a scammer who is desperate to score quick/easy cash to feed a drug habit, pay a gambling debt, payday loan, ect.
This is very clear based on the facts you presented in your original post.

The only action you may need to take is contacting law enforcement, if the threats/harassment continues.
The best resolution you could hope for is that he soon moves on to his next scam.
This.
Ohio, like many states, have strict rules and timelines for filing and acting on a mechanics lien. Scammer contractors know this but throw around "I'll file a lien" to invoke fear among uninformed homeowners, in hopes of getting more of your money before moving on to the next victim.

ddurrett896
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by ddurrett896 » Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:58 am

J295 wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 10:25 pm
Scam. Ignore him and move on.
The issue with that is the problem isn't solved and other people will continue to be ripped off.

mouses
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by mouses » Sat Jun 16, 2018 7:03 am

ddurrett896 wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:58 am
J295 wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 10:25 pm
Scam. Ignore him and move on.
The issue with that is the problem isn't solved and other people will continue to be ripped off.
Hence the need to post reviews, including at the BBB. I have used the BBB in the past. Once they got a refund for me and once all they could do was tell me the person ignored their letters and phone calls, but at least anyone in the future reading the review will be warned away.

michaeljc70
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by michaeljc70 » Sat Jun 16, 2018 7:30 am

I agree with the people that say his threats are a deflection from him wanting to give you money back. The basis for what he would sue you on (based on what you posted here) is ludicrous. Whether you want to try and get your money back and/or try and expose his scamming is another story. My guess is that if this guy is not licensed (as a contractor, electrician or whatever), government complaints will do little. Getting the money back will also probably be very unlikely.

student
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by student » Sat Jun 16, 2018 7:47 am

Time to contact your local tv stations if they have segments that feature such stories in the news.

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NCPE
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by NCPE » Sat Jun 16, 2018 9:54 am

To late to help with this situation but the first question I always ask a potential contractor is for proof of Liability / Workers Compensation Insurance and the name of the agent who wrote the policy. The scammers / fly by night guys will make all sorts of excuses but this one question screens them out first thing.

No insurance = no work.

NCPE

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Sandtrap
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by Sandtrap » Sat Jun 16, 2018 10:36 am

ddurrett896 wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:58 am
J295 wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 10:25 pm
Scam. Ignore him and move on.
The issue with that is the problem isn't solved and other people will continue to be ripped off.
This happened to me years ago. I posted the complaint to every website and consumer watch group I could find. I ended up okay but others may get ripped off if not for being able to do a "google" search on the company or individual. Of course be ready for online or text responses to your consumer complaint online but the satisfaction of stopping someone from doing wrong to others is worth it.

FWIW: I would not call this individual a "contractor". More of a "fly by night" handyman.

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lthenderson
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by lthenderson » Sat Jun 16, 2018 3:11 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:30 pm
BBB is useless, but there's probably no harm in reporting there.
I have found the BBB to be quite good at successfully resolving the two claims I have filed with them over the years. But I suspect that their leverage only extends to legitimate businesses with reputations on the line. It doesn't sound like this contractor has much if any reputation to worry about and thus the BBB might truly be useless in this case.

theplayer11
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by theplayer11 » Sat Jun 16, 2018 5:15 pm

wow, so many red flags..you got scammed

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ram
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by ram » Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:21 pm

Sandtrap wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:18 pm
Next time hire a licensed, bonded, insured, contractor with a verified reputation in the community for excellent work and business practice.
aloha,
j
I will soon be hiring contractors for a new roof and addition of a car garage.
I understand "licensed" Presumably the contractor will be on a database searchable on the internet. Or do I ask for a photocopy of the licence.
What is meant by "bonded"
How do I confirm that they are insured.
I do have names with good references.
Thanks.
Ram

staythecourse
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by staythecourse » Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:29 pm

lthenderson wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 3:11 pm
ResearchMed wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:30 pm
BBB is useless, but there's probably no harm in reporting there.
I have found the BBB to be quite good at successfully resolving the two claims I have filed with them over the years. But I suspect that their leverage only extends to legitimate businesses with reputations on the line. It doesn't sound like this contractor has much if any reputation to worry about and thus the BBB might truly be useless in this case.
BBB is only potentially useful if the business in registered as a member of BBB If they are not then by definition they didn't do it on purpose as they don't want interference or mediation from an outside source. Yes that does always sound sketchy NOT wanting to have someone mediate legitimate disputes as it implies you don't want someone getting involved when you are trying to screw someone over.

Good luck.
"The stock market [fluctuation], therefore, is noise. A giant distraction from the business of investing.” | -Jack Bogle

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Sandtrap
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by Sandtrap » Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:30 pm

ram wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:21 pm
Sandtrap wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:18 pm
Next time hire a licensed, bonded, insured, contractor with a verified reputation in the community for excellent work and business practice.
aloha,
j
I will soon be hiring contractors for a new roof and addition of a car garage.
I understand "licensed" Presumably the contractor will be on a database searchable on the internet. Or do I ask for a photocopy of the licence.
What is meant by "bonded"
How do I confirm that they are insured.
I do have names with good references.
Thanks.
You can contact the local county contractor's licensing center to get the status of a contractor, if insurance is up to date, and so forth, also a record of complaints. Be sure to find out what type of license the person has. Handyman, Carpenter, Subcontractor, Repair, etc.
Also, any reputable contractor can and should provide a list of past jobs with successful completion, with addresses that you can look at with the owners permission. A reputable contractor will always be proud to show past work as a good one will be swamped with referrals.
Be sure to get equal bids, apples for apples.
Be sure the contract is well written with progress payments and a timeline of stages to substantial completion.
Be sure plans and specs are such that the quality of the finished project is ensured.
You can also do the project as an "owner-builder" and hire the carpenters and manage the materials, and subcontractors (electrician, etc) if you have good contacts to good people and are strongly familiar with quality work in the various trades and so forth.

Retired G.C/developer.
aloha
j

donall
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by donall » Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:35 pm

In our state, one can file a complaint with the attorney general. This does not cost anything and may stop his harassing behavior. This can help others who may call this person for services in the future, that is until he changes the name of his company. I would monitor my bank account closely as now this person has your account number. This seems like someone who you do not want around, so the initial check amount will be difficult to get returned and should be viewed as a learning experience. The following link is published by the Ohio Attorney General, Michael DeWine and looks helpful.

http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/File ... -%28PDF%29

2comma
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by 2comma » Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:38 pm

Don't worry he can't do a thing to you. Other than having no case I've been told there isn't a judge alive that hasn't seen their fair share of stupid contractor tricks.

When I've been threatened like this in the past I just tell them "do what you gotta do". That's the end of it every time.
If I am stupid I will pay.

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TinkerPDX
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by TinkerPDX » Sat Jun 16, 2018 7:24 pm

A contract isn't necessarily a piece of paper with comprehensive terms and two signatures. It's a legally enforceable promise/set of promises based on an offer of sufficiently definite terms and objective manifestation of acceptance of that offer. You almost definitely had one, but the contractor almost definitely breached.

Probably not worth the time and effort to get your money back, unless you're looking for things to do. Guy is probably hard to collect a judgment from anyway--sounds like more of a scammer than a contractor. Report it to the contractor's board ($10 says he isn't licensed), and your AG's consumer protection office, then move on.

Next time, get multiple bids, be skeptical of the lowest, and check that everyone is licensed (to the extent required). Anyone who insists on cash up front (like, dollar bills) and who won't let you buy materials directly is probably not someone you want to do business with.

Would be shocked if this guy filed a lien or a lawsuit.

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ram
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Location: Midwest

Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by ram » Sat Jun 23, 2018 4:38 pm

Sandtrap wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:30 pm
ram wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:21 pm
Sandtrap wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:18 pm
Next time hire a licensed, bonded, insured, contractor with a verified reputation in the community for excellent work and business practice.
aloha,
j
I will soon be hiring contractors for a new roof and addition of a car garage.
I understand "licensed" Presumably the contractor will be on a database searchable on the internet. Or do I ask for a photocopy of the licence.
What is meant by "bonded"
How do I confirm that they are insured.
I do have names with good references.
Thanks.
You can contact the local county contractor's licensing center to get the status of a contractor, if insurance is up to date, and so forth, also a record of complaints. Be sure to find out what type of license the person has. Handyman, Carpenter, Subcontractor, Repair, etc.
Also, any reputable contractor can and should provide a list of past jobs with successful completion, with addresses that you can look at with the owners permission. A reputable contractor will always be proud to show past work as a good one will be swamped with referrals.
Be sure to get equal bids, apples for apples.
Be sure the contract is well written with progress payments and a timeline of stages to substantial completion.
Be sure plans and specs are such that the quality of the finished project is ensured.
You can also do the project as an "owner-builder" and hire the carpenters and manage the materials, and subcontractors (electrician, etc) if you have good contacts to good people and are strongly familiar with quality work in the various trades and so forth.

Retired G.C/developer.
aloha
j
Thanks Sandtrap. I have no experience with the trades and do not plan to do it as owner-builder.
Ram

RickBoglehead
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by RickBoglehead » Sat Jun 23, 2018 6:57 pm

ram wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:21 pm
Sandtrap wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:18 pm
Next time hire a licensed, bonded, insured, contractor with a verified reputation in the community for excellent work and business practice.
aloha,
j
I will soon be hiring contractors for a new roof and addition of a car garage.
I understand "licensed" Presumably the contractor will be on a database searchable on the internet. Or do I ask for a photocopy of the licence.
What is meant by "bonded"
How do I confirm that they are insured.
I do have names with good references.
Thanks.

"I need a copy of your current workmen's comp insurance as well as your liability insurance".

lostdog
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by lostdog » Sat Jun 23, 2018 7:42 pm

researcher wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:30 pm
Hippster237 wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:33 pm
Thank you - To be clear, the BBB is where I found a pretty damning complaint about the contractor (it’s not related to my personal experience).
You are getting lots of bad advice to seek legal counsel.
There is absolutely no need to contact a lawyer.
This guy has ZERO intention of bringing legal action against you.

He is just a scammer who is desperate to score quick/easy cash to feed a drug habit, pay a gambling debt, payday loan, ect.
This is very clear based on the facts you presented in your original post.

The only action you may need to take is contacting law enforcement, if the threats/harassment continues.
The best resolution you could hope for is that he soon moves on to his next scam.
+1

First red light was Craigslist. The whole thing just sounds like a scam so he can get quick cash and disappear.

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ram
Posts: 1085
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Location: Midwest

Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by ram » Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:08 pm

[/quote]
I will soon be hiring contractors for a new roof and addition of a car garage.
I understand "licensed" Presumably the contractor will be on a database searchable on the internet. Or do I ask for a photocopy of the licence.
What is meant by "bonded"
How do I confirm that they are insured.
I do have names with good references.
[/quote]

"I need a copy of your current workmen's comp insurance as well as your liability insurance".
[/quote]

Thanks
Ram

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Cycle
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by Cycle » Mon Jun 25, 2018 7:03 pm

you've been bamboozled. cut communication and your losses.

I'm waiting for PM from OP requesting my bank account # so he can give me a reward for solving his problems, just kidding, but this is pretty typical of some of the shenanigans I see when I hire contractors / list property on craigslist. :sharebeer
Last edited by Cycle on Mon Jun 25, 2018 7:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

wolf359
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Re: Contractor - Threatening Lien/Lawsuit

Post by wolf359 » Mon Jun 25, 2018 7:06 pm

Hippster237 wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:36 pm
He left to get the parts and later texted that he was unable to cash the check (since it was Sunday) and asked me to meet him at the store with cash (in place of the check). I advised that I would meet him at the store and we could pay with my credit card. He advised me that was not an option - he needed cash or would need to complete the work another day.
This is the part that tells me that it is a scam. The parts before are at least plausible.

If you pay for the materials with a credit card and he returns them without a receipt, he will only get store credit. If he uses the receipt, the money will go back to the credit card. He wants you to pay in cash so if he returns the materials and skips, he gets the refund in cash. There is no plausible reason for a legitimate contractor to object to the method that you're using to pay for materials.

You did have a valid contract. He breached it. Next time you should make sure you're dealing with a licensed professional, and get references. Yes, it will cost more than the craigslist work quotes. Even so, you may still find grief, but it's less likely to be an out-and-out scammer. (There is no evidence he was a contractor in the first place.)

Make sure you issue a stop payment on the ripped up second check. There's ways to cash it these days if he took a picture of it before ripping it up.

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