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Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 37804
Experience:  16 yrs practice, Civil, Criminal, Domestic, Realtor, Landlord 26 yrs
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Did electrical work bungalow colony in 2008 totaling

Customer Question

Did electrical work for a bungalow colony in 2008 totaling $46,000. It was a time and material job without a signed contract. The customer paid $25000 as job started and has been paying $100 - $125 a month to work off balance.The balance now stands at $10,000 +. Their lawyer just told us that they are going to stop paying us as we do not have a signed contract. Do we have any recourse. Thanks
Submitted: 2 years ago via Cornell Legal Info Institute.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Barrister replied 2 years ago.
Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.
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You may run into a problem enforcing the agreement because in NY, any home improvement contract has to be in writing under NY Statutes 771 which states:
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§ 771. Contract provisions.
Every home improvement contract subject to the provisions of this article, and all amendments thereto, shall be evidenced by a writing and shall be signed by all the parties to the contract. The writing shall contain the following:....
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However, if the customer has been performing under the contract all this time, you could file suit against them under a breach of contract claim if they stop paying and argue that they have waived any defense of the contract not being in writing since they didn't argue that defense to the contract initially.
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This is under the doctrine of "laches" which states that if you don't act to affirmatively enforce a right, you can lose the right to later exercise it due to the passage of time.
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I think that this would be an effective argument because the customer has been agreeable to paying for all this time, they received the benefit of the work, and are only now trying to get out of the rest of the contract after talking to an attorney 7 years after..
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thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
it was a commercial account. We had to renovate 24 units. Does the home contract statute still apply ? Thanks
Expert:  Barrister replied 2 years ago.
Were these residential dwellings you were working on or were they commercial buildings not intended for people to live in?
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thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
residential dwellings
Expert:  Barrister replied 2 years ago.
Ok, then they would be covered under the home improvement statute. It doesn't matter what type of account it is, it is just relevant what type of structure it is...residential or commercial..as to whether the home improvement statute applies.
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But I still think you would win if you sued for breach of oral contract using the laches and waiver arguments..
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thanks
Barrister