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  1. #1

    Default What Can a Contractor Do if You Don't Make the Final Payment for Work

    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: Michigan

    I recently had a new furnace and air conditioner installed in my house. I have paid half and I still owe the other half.

    The company (a well known one) has not "charged" the central air unit yet so I have not paid the final balance. They refuse to charge the unit until I pay the balance.

    I wrote them a post dated check for 4 weeks later for the balance when they installed it assuming the ac would be charged. They new the funds were not in the account when they deposited it, because I transferred those funds to my other checking.

    Now the sherif keeps coming to my house saying he has to investigate the "fraudulent" check. But I thought if you wrote a post dated check and the person knew the funds were not there when they deposited it, it's not a crime.

    Now the sherif is saying he has "forfiture" paypers to serve on me and my fiancé (who didn't sign a single document) for the company to remove the furnace. I can't find anything about a contractor using a forfiture law to remove something they installed. Plus they haven't given me the 3,000 I already paid them.

    The sheriff only calls from a cell phone and way before 7:30am. Today's voice mail was him berating me and threatening me.

    I am thinking he is a friend of the owners or management of this company who installed this? I have called the district court and there are NO civil or criminal cases against me or my fiancé. I have also called the circuit court and there are no civil or criminal cases against me or my fiancé.

    So my questions are:

    1) Can they remove he furnace from my home?
    2) If they can, do I get y money back?
    3) They haven't completed the job yet. Our contract says payment due upon completion. So do I have to pay the balance before they finish?
    4) Should I be concerned about the check that didn't clear?
    5) Can they use forfiture to take the furnace?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    15,829

    Default Re: Have Not Paid Final Payment

    I agree, I wouldn't have paid them until the unit was demonstrated to work. You should have gotten legal advice back then rather than playing games.

    You are wrong. The date on the check is without any real legal meaning. It can be cashed the minute you hand it to the other party. If you intentionally don't have funds, it's a crime. You need to make good on the check.

    The property is the "proceeds" of a crime and indeed can be forfeited. You don't have to be charged or convicted for this to happen. This has to already have gone up before a judge to be valid however.

    Frankly, you likely can stem the criminal and forfeiture actions by actually paying the check (and the NSF fees).

    You can then think about suing the contractor for not finishing the job if he doesn't do so.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: Have Not Paid Final Payment

    Quote Quoting OpinePenguin
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    I wrote them a post dated check for 4 weeks later for the balance when they installed it assuming the ac would be charged.
    There was either a clear agreement that you were paying with a post-dated check, or there wasn't. If there wasn't, and we are to infer that the check was deposited right away, then that was a mistake on your part -- and, having received a rubber check, it is understandable that they want to be paid before they do any more work.
    Quote Quoting OpinePenguin
    They new the funds were not in the account when they deposited it, because I transferred those funds to my other checking.
    How would they know how you're shuffling funds between your accounts?
    Quote Quoting OpinePenguin
    Now the sherif is saying he has "forfiture" paypers to serve on me and my fiancé (who didn't sign a single document) for the company to remove the furnace. I can't find anything about a contractor using a forfiture law to remove something they installed.
    You are probably being sued. Check with the local court. If you were previously served with a lawsuit and ignored it, they may have a court order.
    Quote Quoting OpinePenguin
    Plus they haven't given me the 3,000 I already paid them.
    Is that supposed to be a surprise? You have their furnace and air conditioner.
    Quote Quoting OpinePenguin
    Can they remove he furnace from my home?
    I don't know of a way for them to do so without a court order.
    Quote Quoting OpinePenguin
    If they can, do I get y money back?
    If you are sued, you can try counter-suing and see what the judge decides.
    Quote Quoting OpinePenguin
    They haven't completed the job yet. Our contract says payment due upon completion. So do I have to pay the balance before they finish?
    You did pay -- but with a rubber check.

    The issue you describe relating to non-completion is de minimis -- the charging of the air conditioner. Perhaps you should consider simply proposing that they come and collect from you a cashier's check for the balance you owe, to be tendered upon their charging the air conditioner.
    Quote Quoting flyingron
    View Post
    You are wrong. The date on the check is without any real legal meaning. It can be cashed the minute you hand it to the other party. If you intentionally don't have funds, it's a crime. You need to make good on the check.
    If you knowingly accept a post-dated check, and it is NSF when you later deposit it, it is normally not prosecutable as a crime, as it is exceedingly difficult to demonstrate that the issuer of the check had criminal intent at the time the check was issued. There are few reasons to knowingly take a post-dated check other than because you understand that the issuer does not have funds at the time the check is issued; and there are even fewer cases in which accepting a post-dated check is a good idea.
    Quote Quoting flyingron
    The property is the "proceeds" of a crime and indeed can be forfeited.
    That is not accurate. First, as of yet no crime has been charged, let alone proved. Second, the police are not going to hire contractors to remove HVAC equipment from a home as evidence. Third, there are no "criminal forfeiture" laws that would allow the state to claim ownership of the HVAC equipment, as happens with forfeiture, nor would the contractor that installed it want the state to do so.

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