I recently paid a contractor (up-front) $2500 for materials and labor for a new cedar fence.Nothing was in writing. It was a verbal agreement since he is a friend. He started the work over a week ago, and got quite a bit done. Recently, however, the work has come to an abrupt stop, and does not respond to my phone calls. The fence is less than half doneand the materials sit in my yard exposed to weather.Since I have nothing in writing, and he has my money, am I without legal recourse? I really need some advice.Thank you
Country relating to Question: United States
State (if USA): New Mexico
I have tried calling him, but has yet to respond or give me any time line as to when the fence will be done.
Good afternoon. In this situation, a homeowner such as yourself would still have recourse. The lack of a written contract can be overcome by the concept of promissory estoppel, detrimental reliance, and unjust enrichment. This situation arises when Person A relied upon the verbal agreement, Person A performed based on such reliance, and because Person B defaulted, such reliance is now to Person A's detriment. Where there is i) partial performance by Person A based upon the mutual promises, ii) Person A relied upon such promises to perform, iii) Person B's failure to perform would be to Person A's detriment, and iv) result in Person B being unjustly enriched, Person A can overcome the legal requirement that the agreement be in writing.
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Thanks. Your information was helpful. In a worse case senario, however, is it my legal option to take him to magistrate court? And, would I have a legitimate case?
You're welcome. Yes, if it cannot be resolved amicably, you would take him to magistrate court. You have a very viable case.
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