What is a demand letter?
Demand letters are the beginning of any lawsuit. They clearly tell their recipients that a court will compel them to comply with the demands if they don’t do so independently. They can help resolve as many as 80% of cases without the need to file in court.
For some people, receiving a demand letter may be the first time they seriously consider the issue. Even if you’ve already communicated informally, a demand letter is always worth sending.
What are the necessary elements of a demand letter?
- The To and From fields which should include both your and their name and address
- A one or two-sentence summary of the dispute, i.e. why they owe you money
- A one or two paragraph description that expands on the short summary:
- A description of the dispute (what happened) with dates and references to evidence
- References to the appropriate laws (if you know them)
- Why they owe you money
- A demand for damages (as a dollar value) that has a deadline and method for payment. Indicate if you are willing to negotiate.
- An indication that you’re willing to go to court if they don’t comply. Don’t threaten anything else.
How should a demand letter sound?
- Grammatically correct without spelling errors.
Write with your recipient in mind. Try to write in simple language that they’ll understand.
What does it look like?
Include specific dates and agreements, as well as how the recipient failed to meet your expectations.
On November 7th, we came to an agreement for you to repair my fence for $2,500, including time and materials. You cashed the check I wrote, but you haven’t performed any work on my fence in the two months since November 7th.
This section can be developed more or less depending on your preferences. Keep the recipient in mind. They probably will not want to read a very long and dense letter.
Consider this example:
I have retained your carpentry services before on several occasions in the last three years. You always completed the work at a high standard and it was always to my satisfaction. I would accept delivery of the promised services instead of a refund if work can begin immediately and end by the 19th of January.
In California, oral contracts are fully enforceable. In addition, our discussion over text of when to meet in person at my home to discuss the repair on November 7th and the fact that you cashed the check I gave you that day will make it very clear to a judge that you have effectively stolen $2,500.
Request for Payment
Make it clear how the recipient can repay you. Demand letters help many people avoid court. So make repayment feel like the best option to the reader.
Example: If you do not immediately commence the repair of my fence at 123 Woodrow St. or deliver a check for the full amount of $2,500 payable to me by the 19th of January, I will file suit against you in the County of Los Angeles.
Generate and Mail a Letter With Dispute
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