I signed a contract with a customer to perform work at their home, we met and signed the agreement I collected the required deposit to get the project started and the check was no good and I was charged a fee. I had some reservations going into this project with this couple and now this has me thinking, if it's starting off this way, it's probably going to end in a similar fashion. So, do I have to honor this agreement if they didn't honor their end by providing me with a check that was good ? Thank you in advance !
In order to provide you with an accurate answer, a business attorney should review the contract. Is there a provision dealing with this situation or something similar? Depending upon the amount of the initial deposit, you might claim it is a material breach, but if the contract permits a breaching party to cure the breach, you may not be able to get out of the contract that way. You can have an attorney look at the contract and if it is called for, write a letter to the customer stating that the contract is being terminated. You could also call the customer and tell them that due to the bounced check, you are not comfortable that you could have a good working relationship and see how they respond. Don't tell them you are terminating the contract, just see how their response is to my suggested conversation you have with them.
I do not have all the facts of your particular situation and nothing I have said is intended as, or should be interpreted by you, as legal advice, nor does my answer create any attorney-client relationship. An attorney-client relationship is only created upon signing a written engagement agreement with my firm. You are strongly advised to consult with an attorney about the particular facts of your case.
The contract is the first place you look. If the contract is silent on the subject then there is an argument to be made that the bounced check is a material breach of the contract. I would write them a well-worded letter (although I think speaking to them first as the other attorney suggested is a good thought). Most people would not want a contractor working on their home if there are bad feelings to start so its usually better to amicably part ways.
Leslie A. Margolies, Esq. is an attorney and Director of The Real Estate Law Group which provides affordable legal representation (sliding scale) for people with property problems in all counties of Pennsylvania. Her services include real estate and landlord tenant litigation, real estate transactions and document preparation. Please note that responses to questions on this website are for general purposes only. Such responses may not be considered legal advice and do not establish an attorney-client relationship.
While the contract may provide for a cure period and you would have to honor that, I do not believe that you must perform not knowing if you will ever receive your final payment. In fact, referring to the UCC Sales Article as a model, a merchant who reasonably deems himself "insecure" as to payment may insist on being paid in cash. And I agree that your reservations are bona fide. So, while you must still perform, you may require full payment BEFORE doing so. Admittedly the UCC article technically applies only between merchants and your clients are consumers not merchants, but the UCC does codify the common law of contracts and I think this position reasonable under the circumstances. Others may disagree. Best of luck finessing this one!
I would love to have youas a client however THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE/I AM NOT YOUR LAWYER unless and until you sign a retainer agreement with me. Even so , I do hope this response is helpful...if so, please take a moment to check the appropriate box! I am licensed to practice in PA and OH (inactive in OH) only and am admitted to practice before the EDPA & MDPA federal district courts . No opinion relative to the law of any other jurisdiction is expressed or implied. Positive rankings on AVVO and Google Plus are most appreciated.
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