What to do if a homeowner owes you money

In the vast majority of cases, putting tradespeople in contact with homeowners results in a positive experience. However, there may be times when things don’t work out. If this happens and you’re owed money for work you’ve already carried out, we encourage you to follow the below steps:

  1. Contact the homeowner to discuss payment
  2. Consider mediation to help resolve your dispute
  3. Organise your evidence
  4. Contact Citizens Advice for further help


Contacting the homeowner

You should first contact the homeowner to discuss payment. If this doesn’t result in the homeowner paying you the money they owe, mediation can help resolve your dispute.



Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Working with a completely neutral mediator trained in dealing with difficult discussions, both you and the homeowner are encouraged to discuss your perspectives and different options will be explored to resolve the issues without going to court. The UK judicial system and new European Union Alternative Dispute Resolution Directive now expect you to attempt ADR as a last attempt to resolve disputes before taking legal action.


What mediation involves

When a homeowner agrees to go through mediation, a mediator will empower you both by putting the decision-making back in your hands. They take your feelings and wishes into account as well as the evidence and facts. Everything you discuss is on a “without prejudice” basis and stays confidential. It’s only once you’ve reached a resolution and an agreement has been drafted and signed that the agreed outcome becomes binding.


Service providers

We work with Small Claims Mediation (UK) Ltd – twice award-winning for innovation because all their services are provided either online or over the telephone.

They’re the market leaders in low cost mediation services and are listed on the Ministry of Justice’s online directory of mediation providers. Each hour of mediation costs £100 – shared equally between you and the homeowner. This is a lot cheaper than hiring a solicitor and taking court action.

If you don’t want to communicate directly with the homeowner or vice versa, all mediation arrangements can be handled via Small Claims Mediation. You should use this letter template to inform the homeowner that you wish to go through mediation.


If mediation doesn’t work out

If mediation doesn’t resolve your dispute, organise your evidence to show that the homeowner owes you money, the homeowner is declining to pay and you’ve attempted ADR. This will include the contract for the work and any emails/written documents you have detailing your discussions with the homeowner. Once you’ve gathered your evidence, seek help from Citizens Advice.