Obligations to a person who went bankrupt???

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by texican, Aug 14, 2005.

  1. texican

    texican Well-Known Member

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    I make all of my off farm cash income doing remodeling projects for people. Last Thanksgiving I took on a job with a local neighbor, gutting his two back to back bathrooms, making a large one, with whirlpool tub, custom built shower, cabinets, stone walls, slate floors...the whole shebang...

    When I started, I told him what my rates were, and what I'd fix if something went wrong...

    Well, after a month, his weekly payments got further and further behind, and then the checks started bouncing. I stopped working...he wanted to know why I couldn't keep working, and I mentioned I did need 'money'... I kept the 500$ bounced check as leverage... He tried to claim his bankruptcy covered me also, and I told him that didn't mean squat to me, he still owed me 5K. After bad mouthing him to every human, dog, and songbird in this part of Texas, and 6 months later, he said he couldn't pay me everything, but could do 'half'... at this point, I'm thinking half is better than nothing..... A few weeks after he pays me, he lands a gravy job, $300+ a day, but he thinks he doesn't need to pay me the rest of the original bill........................ OK, Fine, Be That Way.

    AND NOW, the moral dilemma I face.............
    Last week, he calls, and says I need to come over and fix some things that are broke.....after 9 months of wear and tear... Hmmmmmm, I'm wondering to myself, if I discounted my work by 50%, is there still a warranty??? When I warrant work, I add on about 10%, so that if they call back, I don't lose my shirt. A few people abuse this 'warranty' work......a little old lady who thinks because I replaced a faucet, that the pipes in her other bathrooms are broke now because of me....well, I fix it, bite my tongue, and don't say anything.......... and then she wonders why I can't come work on something else.... I guarantee my work, not others, and not wear and tear on parts...

    I do plan on doing a minimal amt of work on the bankrupters home, but minimal, and when i have 'nothing' else to do...them ol' cash cows get preference over the scraggly one eyed steers the sale barn won't take as dogfood... I have a LONG memory :flame: and I rarely if ever stick my hand in the fire twice.... and my money is harder to come by than his...

    am I being a hardcase?
     
  2. sancraft

    sancraft Well-Known Member

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    I don't know what is legal if the guarantee is written, but I would think that because he never completed paying you, that you have no obligation to him. I wouldn't go back to fix anything. JMHO.
     

  3. sidepasser

    sidepasser Well-Known Member

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    Here in GA. there is a such thing as a construction lien against property if the bill isn't paid. All a worker has to do is go to small claims court if under 5,000 and file showing proof that the work was done and the bill unpaid. The judgement will go against the real estate just like a mortgage lien, etc.

    If he went bankrupt, you should have received a written notice of when the hearing was to be held and a creditors notice allowing you to state your claims. If you did not receive one, then you must check with the court to see if you were listed. If you weren't listed, then you can file for a judgement against him.

    As far as warranty, I'd consult an attorney. but I'd demand payment in full before picking up the hammer to do one thing...

    Sidepasser
     
  4. cathyharrell

    cathyharrell Well-Known Member

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    He should be embarrassed to even ask.
     
  5. FiddleKat

    FiddleKat Mother,Artist, Author Supporter

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    As far as I know bankruptcy covered only non-secured debts. Debts owed the government such as gov. loans, and especially taxes are not covered in the bankruptcy.

    I would look into the matter because although your not really a non-secured debt, your also not a "creditor" in the means your not a credit card company. I think you fall under a different catagory.

    the other thing I question is when did he tell you about the bankruptcy? How long after did it occur? And when he originally hired you?
    Bankruptcy doesn't happen over night. In fact once you files court fees to the date to the original discharge its several months. If he hired you then told you a short period of time after he was filing bankruptcy, it sounds as if he knew he was going down the financial tubes and was looking for a free remodeling job.
     
  6. MaryNY

    MaryNY Well-Known Member

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    As others have said, you shoudl check all this out with an attorney. And, while you're visiting with the attorney, have him fill you in on your local procedure for filing a "mechanic's lien" against real property - which is something you should be able to do yourself and not require an attorney. It is a lien by a person who has done work that improved the value of the property and has not been paid. That way, if and when the owner ever goes to sell it, he/she can't sell until the lien is paid. Most new houses around here have mechanic's liens from half the subcontractors by the time the deal closes, then when they are paid the liens are lifted. So check that out with your local legal eagle while you're checking out what you should do with Mr. Bankrupt. Oh, and just at a guess - I'd say that you were not listed on his list of creditors. And furthermore, I wouldn't be so sure he even filed (unless you know that for a fact) or that if he did file that he went through with it or that the judge discharged the debt or the entire debt. Good luck!

    MaryNY
     
  7. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You should have made a claim when you found out he was in bankruptcy You should have been listed as a debt. I am betting his bankruptcy does cover you and your out they money owed and have no legal way to get it back. You can however attach the property and then it becomes a lean on the property. Doesnt mean you will get your money until the property sells.

    As for fixing things that are broke. I would walk away now. Were permits required for this work?
     
  8. TimandPatti

    TimandPatti Texas

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    A Promissory Note isn't worth much to be honest. I had one and never got paid.
    If he didn't pay you, you don't owe him a thing.
    I would do the work after he paid me what he owed me and it cleared the bank.
     
  9. quadrants2

    quadrants2 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    one thing i would check is when he filed bankruptcy in relationship to your work. first of all his bankruptcy dates are public knowledge and should be easy to find out, second if he filed and then had you start the work on a payment plan his bankruptcy could be null and void because he aquired debt during his bk.even if it has been discharged they can go back and make him liable for his debts...i would look into this...
    however , if this doesnt pan out,,take it from a fellow contractor, i wouldnt lose any sleep over not fixing anything else and i would not do anything else for him..cut your losses and find a customer to replace him..one that pays!
    good luck...
    quad
     
  10. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Yep,he didnt live up to agreement,I think you are through.Let him sue and find out.

    BooBoo
     
  11. John_in_East_Tx

    John_in_East_Tx Well-Known Member

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    Wow, that is chutzpah - they guy stiffs you for half the job and then wants 'warranty work' nine months later!

    I wouldn't do One Darn Thing for this fellow without getting the other half of what he owes you - up front!
     
  12. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I don't know what is legal or what is not in such a case, but I wouldn't bother returning a phone call or set foot on his place unless & until a court would tell me to.

    I think you are being too soft.

    A neighbor stiffed me for $600 of oats/ baling last summer. I'm polite if we meet in a store, but heck (I'll use nice language here...) if I ever do anything for him again.

    --->Paul
     
  13. MaryNY

    MaryNY Well-Known Member

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    Another thought - IF you were to go back in there and fix whatever needs fixing, THEN what would keep them from breaking something else and saying it needs fixing etc. - OR claiming your work broke something else and then allegedly hiring someone else to come fix it for mega bucks and THEN suing you to get the payment for the work by the other person - or some such thing! All things considered, it would be way too easy to say that you damaged something in the house - or worse - once you spent some time in there. At least if you decide to go, take a "helper" with you. I wouldn't trust this dude not to pull some sort of shennanigans! Be careful!

    MaryNY
     
  14. RedneckPete

    RedneckPete Well-Known Member

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    You asked if you were being hard in this case....

    I work for myself also, and refuse to not get paid. I work too hard for my money to let some creep stiff me for well-done work they asked me to do.

    I find every number I can for the individual involved, including work, home, cell, father, mother, brothers or sisters and known aquaintances. The first day I call the individual, and let him know that I am going to start hounding him, and that the only way I will stop is to recieve payment in full. No more payments or deals, the time for that is past. Payment in full, or the calls will continue.

    Then I start calling. I program my cell phone, (I know costs me, but I'm never home much) and call 5-10 times the second day, 10-20 times the next day and 40-50 times every day after that. As soon as they stop answering their phone (it happens every time) I still leave messages, but also start calling their family and friends. I politely tell them who I am, who I am looking for and that the person I am calling about owes me money. I have even set a timer to go off every 20 minutes to remind me to call, but usually by the time I reach this point I am peed off enough that I don't need remininding to think about it.

    Everyone buckles to this method, and everyone who has enough assets to request work has enough money to pay. I've told people to pawn their TV, sell their cars, do what it takes, because I won't stop calling until I get paid. Calls start at 7 AM, and end late evening. I give them Sunday off, not for their sake but for mine.

    I know there are laws about collection, but I feel that like a lot of other stupid laws they apply only to others, not to me. There are laws about paying your bills, if they would pay their bills I wouldn't need to resort to these methods. When I get the cash, it confirms to me that in this case two wrongs to indeed make a right.

    Cheers.

    Pete
     
  15. pumpkinlady

    pumpkinlady Well-Known Member

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    Sure, I would make arrangements to go back and fix his problems. Of course well I was fixing I would also be removing the faucets, sink, towel holders, etc.. (anything I had put up that came out of my pocket). Maybe not so nice but if he didn't pay for it I wouldn't want him to keep enjoying it. Once removed I would then reinstall after getting my money. Rip me off once, shame on you; twice, shame on me. Just my opinion.
     
  16. DAVID In Wisconsin

    DAVID In Wisconsin Well-Known Member

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    You don't owe him jack. In many states you have a very limited amount of time to secure a mechanics' lien. I'd imagine you're well past that date. A hot check, however, is normally not discharged through bankruptcy. You can probably get him for that. If you try to get what he owes you, he'll likely file a countersuit claiming lots and lots of substandard work as the reason he won't pay you. I'd press charges with the sheriff's department for the hot check and chalk the rest up to experience.
     
  17. tooltime

    tooltime Border Ruffian

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    Texican,
    I wish I had definitive advice for you, but not knowing the laws governing bakruptcy and mechanic's/contractor's liens in TX, afraid I can't.
    In MN, you have to have written notice (pre-lien notification) served to "the deadbeat," either in the contract or in specific written form afterward, that you will seek to attach a lien to resolve unpaid debts.
    In my repair business, I have guys who bring in equipment who owe me for work done over 12 months ago. I just tell them I can work on their stuff after they pay me what is owed. Clients who don't pay aren't worth having, and I wouldn't waste time with this guy.
     
  18. texican

    texican Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately, I assumed he was an honorable person. I've known him all my life...we've hunted together, (and you form some pretty strong bonds when you help and receive help dragging an elk off a remote mountainside...), we attend all the local family get togethers (we're not related, but we have loose 2nd gen marital links), yada yada yada...

    I did not have a contract. I had his word. His word turned bad. I won't make the same mistake twice.

    My word is my bond. A handshake is a deal...not binding in a court of law, but mighty powerful in a small community. After all this bankruptcy bullhockey, I started to talk to others and found out things I wish I'd known before starting to work....I'd've demanded a large deposit up front....

    I didn't contact an attorney on this...I have contacted our local family attorney on different matters, and know what his rates are...and at best, the attorney would be getting 75% of what I'm owed, and that's if they didn't go to court...and I definetely dislike the idea of sitting in a courtroom.

    There are no licenses required in Texas. If I were building a new home for someone, and they'd borrowed money from the bank, all the contractors have to be licensed and bonded. I don't usually work in town, because of code restrictions and licensing issues. I call my licensed plumber or electrical friends when necessary. I checked into bonding and insurance back when I first realized people paid royally for this type of work, and my regular agent gave me a figure of around 8k w/o roof work... I only work for people I know, we have an agreement on insurance before I start...my fault, I pay...there fault, they pay... I dislike litigation... Have walked away from some nice gravy train jobs because of clients needs/wishes/attitudes.....with no hard feelings, I recommend someone who can do it better than I can.

    I did go back today, and did 30 minutes worth of work...and told the relative staying with him to not use the shower for a week, or it'd never get better. I'll go back and lay 60" of grout line, about five minutes work, next week..............and then I wash my hands with him.

    What's funny, he wants me to do "more" work. Biting my tongue, I have to say I'm real busy with so and so's place.

    I "KNOW" all the medieval torture methods...if this were a stranger, I WOULD get my money, or SATISFACTION :grit: plus interest...or slap a lien and tie up there credit/cloud their title, etc.... Or just back the trailer up and start ripping stuff out and carrying home or to the dump................. but this guy IS a neighbor, and he knows where I live.....not many people do!!!...

    I've made enough noise and caused enough stink, that locals won't think I'm a pushover......but I don't want to raise the level to a point of violence...it's only money...I'm not starving...like an Uncle asked me this weekend "Did you learn anything"...I smiled, as I ask others the same thing when they do something stupid, or get burned on something..."did you learn anything"???... as in I spent ~$1800 on a "graduate level class" in Trust (class 501)

    What's sad is I do work for Rich people and dirt poor people. The dirt poor write a check that day, or ask if I can wait till next payday to cash it...no problem... The people most able to pay, try and stiff me (one of the Doctors in the development on the East side of my spread waited ten months to pay...nice little note saying they were sorry for being so late......maybe it was me dropping off OVERDUE STATEMENTS at his office, and handing it to a different nurse each time?????)

    And I'm not fixing anything else, at his place anyhow.

    I might start showing up at his weekend parties, and see how much brew I can consume....problem is it'd take a long time to drink that much....second problem is I rarely drink more than 2....

    oh well, new policy is...if they have a nice car and a nice home, I need a nice deposit first....a Harley in the garage, larger deposit first...

    texican