Can I Write a Demand Letter Instead of Hiring an Attorney

Written by J. Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Yes, you can write a demand letter instead of hiring an attorney. Why not handle it yourself instead of paying a lawyer to collect the money or represent you in court?

Purpose of Demand Letters

A demand letter is a written document demanding a specific remedy to a transaction. The most common disputes involve money or services. Demand letters can come from either side of an issue. Someone may owe you rent or money for services you provided. On the other hand, perhaps you paid someone money to provide a service for you and they have not done the work. Perhaps the service you received was not satisfactory. Demand letters are the final step before going to small claims court.

Evidence

Make sure you have records of the transaction such as letters, phone calls, personal conversations, invoices, payment records, quotes, agreements, progress reports, and any other documents. Once it becomes apparent that a problem is developing, it is extremely important that you keep records of the steps you took to resolve the dispute.

Writing the Letter

Begin the letter with a brief summary of the situation. For example, I paid you $2,500 on July 1 for remodeling my kitchen. You agreed to begin work on July 7. It is July 14 and you have not yet started working.

Next, mention any attempts you have made to contact the contractor. Now, give the contractor until a specified date to begin work.

You must then indicate what steps you will take if the contractor does not begin work by the date you set. Examples include advising that you will put a claim against his contractor?s license with the city or his contractor's bond through the surety company. Contractors will not want any claims against their license or their bond because they could lose their license to work and therefore their livelihood.

If someone owes you money, give them about seven days to pay and then advise them that you will take them to small claims court. Some people will comply to avoid the stress of going to court and the embarrassment of having their name in the paper reporting that they have been sued.

Resolution

If the other party does not comply, take the matter to small claims court. You can handle it yourself by bringing the evidence with you.

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