What Is a Demand Letter and How to Send One

What is a demand letter

In this article we will explain in simple terms what a demand letter is and how you can find a lawyer to send one on your behalf for a reasonable flat fee. 

What Is a Demand Letter?

In a nutshell, a demand letter is a letter sent to a person or business formally demanding something, such as payment. For example, if you had an agreement with someone to pay you for a service or job and were stiffed on the bill, you could send a demand letter insisting on payment. A demand letter could be sent to collect an unpaid loan. Or, you may have paid for a service and never received it, in which case you could send a demand letter requesting the service be performed or a refund be issued. There are countless situations where a demand letter can be useful. 

Anyone can write a demand letter but a more effective letter will be written and sent by an attorney. One way to think about demand letters is that they give the recipient one last opportunity to set things right before more serious action is taken. A demand letter is usually preceded by informal attempts to resolve the issue, such as through calls, texts, or emails. 

The goal of sending a demand letter is to convey to the recipient that your demands are serious and they have one last opportunity to resolve the issue before it escalates further.

What Is in a Demand Letter?

A demand letter will typically contain the following information:

  1. A brief description of the circumstances.
  2. The action being requested (i.e., paying a certain amount of money or fulfilling a promise).
  3. A deadline for complying with the sender’s demands.
  4. The potential consequences if the demands are not met (i.e., a potential lawsuit).

If sent by an attorney, the letter will be on the law firm’s letterhead and be signed by the attorney. 

A well-crafted demand letter should be business-like and avoid accusations and insults. You should clearly state the facts and make a strong, formal demand for payment or action. A demand letter should carry a professional tone and be concise, serious, and to the point. 

Do I Need a Lawyer to Send a Demand Letter?

Anyone can send a demand letter. However, it’s much better to use an attorney for a few reasons. If you are dealing with a recipient who has repeatedly failed to deliver on what they promised you, it’s unlikely that writing a formal letter to them will solve the issue. Having a lawyer send a letter on your behalf puts the recipient on notice that you are prepared to take serious action to enforce your demands. A letter from a lawyer carries much more weight than a letter you send yourself.

In addition, a lawyer will have experience in drafting a persuasive demand letter. They will be more familiar with how to craft a demand letter for maximum impact. 

The downside of having an attorney draft a letter for you is the hassle of finding a lawyer and the exorbitant fees that lawyers can charge. If you’re able to find a lawyer willing to work on a single demand letter (which itself can be a challenge), you then have to worry about how much they will charge. Many lawyers require a retainer (another word for a deposit) and charge by the hour. You will have no idea how much the final bill will be and whether you are being charged a fair rate. For these reasons, many people don’t even consider hiring an attorney to help with their demand letter.

Demand Letters was founded to make lawyers accessible to more people. For a low flat rate, an attorney will draft and send a demand letter on your behalf. No deposits, hidden fees, or surprise bills. 

In What Situations Is It Appropriate to Send a Demand Letter?

A demand letter can be sent in a wide variety of circumstances. Below are just a few common situations where demand letters are used: 

  • Demanding Payment for Services Rendered or Products Sold, or for Back Pay: One of the more common reasons a demand letter is sent is to collect for payment owed. For example, you may be owed back pay from an employer who laid you off without paying your most recent wages. You may be a freelance artist that created logo designs for a company that is now ignoring your requests to be paid. You could be a writer that wrote copy for some ads that a business is refusing to pay for. Or you could be a business trying to collect on unpaid invoices for products or services you delivered to a customer who has repeatedly missed the deadline for payment. 
  • Demanding Money Owed: Many demand letters are sent to collect for money that is owed because it was loaned to a person or was being held temporarily (such as in a security deposit). For example, you may have given a cash loan to your cousin or a mutual acquaintance to help with their struggling business, but now they’re ignoring your texts and calls when you try to get your money back. Or perhaps you recently moved out of your apartment and it’s been over two months but your landlord still hasn’t returned your security deposit. Or you may be a landlord and your tenant has missed several months of rent. 
  • Demanding Someone to Take Action: A demand letter can be sent when you want a person or business to make good on a promise. For example, you may have paid a contractor in advance to perform some work on your home, but now they are unresponsive. Or you may have paid an artist to design some artwork for your business but they have yet to deliver. 
  • Demanding the Return of Property: Demand letters are sometimes sent when another person is wrongfully holding on to your property. For example, you may have loaned some equipment to a friend who now refuses to return the items. Or when you left your last apartment you may have temporarily left behind some furniture and a television but now your old roommates, the landlord, or the new tenant is refusing to let you return and collect your belongings.
  • Demanding Remedies for Damages: A demand letter can be sent to collect for damages someone has inflicted on you. For example, you might be a landlord who had a tenant that caused damage to your apartment far exceeding what the security deposit will cover. Perhaps someone crashed into your car and promised to fix the damage but they are no longer answering your calls. Or perhaps a neighbor’s dog got loose and ruined your garden and caused other property damage. Or someone’s negligence caused you to sustain an injury and now you have medical bills that need to be paid. 

How Should a Demand Letter Be Sent?

When sending a demand letter, it is important to use a traceable method. You want to ensure that you have confirmation that the letter was delivered to the recipient. Certified mail or another traceable delivery method is recommended for sending hardcopy letters. Demand letters can also be sent via email or by fax. 

What Happens If the Recipient Ignores My Demand Letter?

It’s generally worthwhile to send a demand letter before more serious and costly legal actions are considered. The formality of a demand letter may move the recipient to act where more casual efforts to resolve the situation previously failed, especially if the demand letter is sent by a licensed attorney. 

In situations where a demand letter is ignored, it may be time to pursue more serious legal action. You may want to consider taking the recipient to court. Depending on the scope of the demands being made, it may be helpful for an attorney to represent your interests if you decide to sue the recipient.

Alternatively, you may also decide that you gave it your best shot and the matter is not worth pursuing further because of the cost and headache it would entail. Sometimes the recipient won’t meet all of your demands but will respond with a counteroffer, in which case you may choose to negotiate and an acceptable compromise may be reached. 

Need a lawyer to send someone a cease and desist or demand letter for a reasonable flat rate? Just click on the link below to get started.

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