What should I do if the homeowner is unwilling to pay for completed work?

Find out what to do if a homeowner is unwilling to pay for compliant electrical work.

  • Best practice

Situations like this are tricky, so it’s important to learn good business practices, customer relations, communication and professionalism, to avoid this entirely.

Make sure to document signed quotes detailing scope of work instead of making verbal agreements that may be confused by you or the client.

If you do find yourself in a dispute, you are not allowed to keep the Certificate of Compliance (CoC), Record of Inspection (RoI), or Electrical Safety Certificate (ESC), from the person who contracted the work, so that you can be paid for your work.

You have to issue these to that person within 20 days, and the work is not legally completed until the COC and ROI have been issued. This may come into play during a Disputes Tribunal or court proceeding recovery of debt as the work might not be seen as finished.

As long as your work has the right paperwork issued (which means it’s completed and compliant) there are legal options available to electrical practitioners to recover bad debts such as Disputes Tribunal for claims less than $15,000.

In a situation where the completed work is compliant, and certified this then becomes a civil dispute to recover an unpaid debt.

To ensure the best chance of recovery through the Disputes Tribunal or court system, the electrical practitioner should be able to show: 

  • Documented evidence of lawful and certified work.
  • Observance of contractual arrangements (whether they verbal or written).
  • Work carried out in good faith.