The line between a demand letter and extortion can become hazy for contractors who are desperate to secure payment on a project that they have dedicated themselves to. In part one, we discussed what constitutes extortion and the penalties that can be expected for committing it. Below, a Houston contractor attorney will discuss how you can write an effective and persuasive demand letter while avoiding the use of threatening language that can get you in trouble. For assistance with all construction-related legal matters, including drafting demand letters, reviewing contracts, and filing mechanic’s liens, consult our Houston contractor attorneys at Cotney Law.
Threatening Language to Avoid
When drafting a demand letter, it is imperative that you check your emotions at the door. If you are faced with the pressures of paying for subcontractors, materials, and your own crew, it’s only natural to become angry when an owner refuses payment, but you must not let that cloud your judgment.
Your demand letter cannot threaten an owner’s safety, family, friends, or reputation. You cannot threaten repercussions from a government agency, you can only present them with evidence of what you are owed and the deadline for when it is due. As far as threats go, you can only threaten future litigation.
Writing an Effective Demand Letter Without Resorting to Threatening Language
Remember, your goal is to get paid. Everything included in your demand letter should work towards this outcome. Your demand letter should be typed and appear professional in every regard. It should clearly state the owed amount, the dates it was incurred, and the date it should be paid by. Include invoices and any pertinent documents that backup your claim.
The most effective demand letters instill in the reader the reality that litigation will occur unless payment is received. Usually, a demand letter with a legal letterhead from a law office is enough to bring an owner to their senses and resolve matters without the need to go to court.
Have an Attorney Draft Your Demand Letters
The only way to guarantee that your demand letter is effective and non-threatening is to have it drafted by an experienced attorney. It is simply too easy for firm language to turn threatening, especially when your livelihood is on the line. And, as we discussed in part one, the penalties for committing extortion range from hefty fines to time in prison. Having your demand letter drafted by one of our Houston contractor attorneys is your best chance of securing payment while avoiding the pitfalls that have ensnared other contractors.
If an owner has withheld payment, don’t allow them to get the upper hand. Partner with the team of attorneys at Cotney Law for legal counsel that will fight to secure your payment with a skillfully crafted demand letter.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.