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Thread: Liens and legal issues

  1. #71
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
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    Hawthorne, New York NEC: 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by electrofelon View Post
    I don't see how that could be. As I haven't been paid I still own all the materials. If they don't want me to finish and pay me for anything, I'll take my stuff and leave.
    The law in most states is that if you install things like we do in this trade, as soon as you do it becomes part of the building and the property of the owner. If he hasn't paid you for it you have to take him to court and let a judge decide who's telling the truth. You can't use "self help" and go in and remove things. Doing so would be considered vandalism or burglary. You can't have anything in your contract that would allow such conduct either because your customer can't sign away his legal rights.

    The only time you could get away with this is if you had material and tools stored on the customers premises. Then I believe you retain ownership during a dispute and have the right to go in and reclaim them, probably with a court order and police supervision.

    -Hal

  2. #72
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    Dec 2007
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    NE Nebraska
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    Quote Originally Posted by hbiss View Post
    The law in most states is that if you install things like we do in this trade, as soon as you do it becomes part of the building and the property of the owner. If he hasn't paid you for it you have to take him to court and let a judge decide who's telling the truth. You can't use "self help" and go in and remove things. Doing so would be considered vandalism or burglary. You can't have anything in your contract that would allow such conduct either because your customer can't sign away his legal rights.

    The only time you could get away with this is if you had material and tools stored on the customers premises. Then I believe you retain ownership during a dispute and have the right to go in and reclaim them, probably with a court order and police supervision.

    -Hal
    Kind of what I was trying to say earlier. And materials not yet installed are not a part of real estate yet. Once you fasten it, bury it, etc. it becomes a part of the real estate.

    If you are selling a service, say maybe security system, phone, internet, even fire alarm you can disable link to outside world, disable software, change access codes, or otherwise interrupt the service being provided. Unfortunately most of us here just install electrical items but don't sell the electrical service, internet service, etc.

    You could sell and install PLC and wiring and have PLC linked via internet so you have remote access to help remotely service/update software type issues. Failure to pay, you could easily remotely disable that software and when customer complains it doesn't work tell them you will be happy to fix it once you are paid what is still owed to you, but you can't just go in and physically remove what is now a part of their property.
    I live for today, I'm just a day behind.

  3. #73
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    Jun 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by kwired View Post

    If you are selling a service, say maybe security system, phone, internet, even fire alarm you can disable link to outside world, disable software, change access codes, or otherwise interrupt the service being provided.

    You could sell and install PLC and wiring and have PLC linked via internet so you have remote access to help remotely service/update software type issues. Failure to pay, you could easily remotely disable that software and when customer complains it doesn't work tell them you will be happy to fix it once you are paid what is still owed to you, but you can't just go in and physically remove what is now a part of their property.
    Well, not really. If you are a POCO, internet, cable, phone or cell phone company that charges monthly for the service then, yes you are allowed to discontinue the service for non-payment.

    However accessing equipment like computers, phone systems or alarm systems, even those that you just installed, for illicit reasons can get you charged with computer tampering, computer trespass and unauthorized use of a computer and as much as a first degree felony as well as a federal crime.

    It's real tempting, when you have remote access to your customer's equipment to try something like that. DON'T! If you are in a dispute with a customer and they find that you altered their system you just gave them a gift. Attorneys aren't stupid and the first thing their attorney will do is press for criminal charges and his client just won.

    -Hal

  4. #74
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    NE Nebraska
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    Quote Originally Posted by hbiss View Post
    Well, not really. If you are a POCO, internet, cable, phone or cell phone company that charges monthly for the service then, yes you are allowed to discontinue the service for non-payment.

    However accessing equipment like computers, phone systems or alarm systems, even those that you just installed, for illicit reasons can get you charged with computer tampering, computer trespass and unauthorized use of a computer and as much as a first degree felony as well as a federal crime.

    It's real tempting, when you have remote access to your customer's equipment to try something like that. DON'T! If you are in a dispute with a customer and they find that you altered their system you just gave them a gift. Attorneys aren't stupid and the first thing their attorney will do is press for criminal charges and his client just won.

    -Hal
    I imagine there are technicalities that need addressed. I also imagine most cases I can think of the provider doesn't exactly "hack" the user to disable service but rather denies a necessary supply line from their end in one way or another.

    Sometimes the on site equipment is owned by the service provider in some way - look at service contracts/agreements, and in those cases they may have the right to remotely access it and manipulate things. POCO usually owns their meter on the premises. If it has the ability to interrupt service via remote command they likely have the right to do so. They also have wording in their service contracts/agreements that user had to agree to in order to receive service, that states what can happen in the case of non payment, plus usually some sort of easement involved that gives them physical access, this would allow them access to physically disconnect in cases where that is the method necessary.

    In the instance I mentioned earlier with the PLC and having remote access - maybe not totally legal, depending on contracts and agreements. But at same time might not be that difficult to get away with either. The burden is on the user to prove you did something wrong. Unless they have in house guys that are able to figure this out (and most that do wouldn't necessarily need your service) their best option is to come to you, and you will gladly fix their problem once you are paid for past due items. Or they can go someone that provides similar service to you and they possibly figure out what is going on and either fix the problem without telling them exactly what happened or even give them some story whether true or not that they can't access certain protected items and would have to start from scratch with new software program, and then find later out they aren't getting paid either
    I live for today, I'm just a day behind.

  5. #75
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    Aug 2004
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    Northern illinois
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldstar View Post
    I just can't get over how all these laws are designed to protect the slime balls and very few are designed to protect us tradesmen from these predators.
    the laws work pretty well if you have signed contracts and do even a little bit of background checking on potential customers. A D&B check is pretty cheap insurance.

    just googling them can tell you a lot about the guy.
    Bob

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