Every roofing contractor will eventually have a client that does not pay for their roofing. You may have completed the project in its entirety or have partially completed the job when the customer halts work for any number of reasons. Either way, you will have purchased steel roofing sheets and other supplies and materials. This puts you at a financial deficit equating to the value of the roofing materials, not to mention the time you have spent completing the project.
With non-payment, you might think that you are within your rights to go to the customer premises and take back your roofing; after all, the client has not paid for it. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
The Sale of Goods Act 1979 sets out your and your customer’s rights and legal situation unless this is amended by a signed contract between you and the client. The act states that the rights to the steel roofing sheets and other goods pass to the customer upon delivery. If you take matters into your own hands and take your roofing back, you could be prosecuted for theft, criminal damage, and trespassing.
So, what should you do if someone doesn’t pay for their roofing?
The Requesting Payment Process
To request payment for your roofing job, you will typically issue an invoice. If the client does not make payment, then you should talk to the customer to ensure a simple mistake or oversight has been made.
The Customer’s Responsibility
The customer is responsible for paying for your service within 30 days of your invoice and completion of the roof. The 30-day rule applies, even if payment terms are not stated in a written or verbal contract.
If the customer wants to cancel the work part way through, and you have installed steel roofing sheets, and they cannot be removed without damage, then you have a basis for arguing that the customer has lost their right to cancel the work.
If you are researching your rights ahead of starting a roofing project, you can create a contract that includes a Retention of Title clause in your Terms and Conditions. Here you can state that ownership of the roofing transfers at the time of full payment. You are then in a stronger position, although there will be a loss of consumables and roofing products or parts that cannot be removed without damage. A roofing contract can cover deposits, cancellation fees, labour costs, loss of profit, and rules for returning non-installed and installed products.
Who Can Help
You could seek professional help to get paid for your roofing. Assistance includes engaging a commercial debt recovery company to secure invoice payments as soon as they become overdue.
If a company or individual homeowner fails to pay, you can issue a statutory demand. You can use a statutory demand form to create this document and serve your customer.
If payment is held over a dispute, then a method of resolving the conflict and getting payment is to use an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme. The ADR organisation or person will attempt to mediate a solution without going to court. Avoiding court is often beneficial due to the associated costs and time. Usually, a judge will have expected you to have taken this action before bringing the matter to the courtroom. Trading Standards provides a complete list of alternative dispute resolution bodies. The UK government also recommends finding a mediation service here.
If your statutory demand or mediation fails, then your final recourse is to make a court claim. If the claim is for less than £100,000, you can make a money claim online.