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5 Rights Missouri Contractors Have When Storing Homeowners’ Property

General Contractors Vice & Tools

Contractors’ Rights on a Remediation Project

The phone rings at 5am.

It’s a call from the insurance adjuster.

One of their insured clients’ home flooded.

Your company is tasked with performing the remediation work after the flood. As part of the work, you had to remove personal property for the homeowner.

You also agreed to store the personal property for the homeowner, and you’re billing the homeowner an agreed upon amount for said storage.

After you have completed all of the work, the homeowner refuses to pay your company for the work and will not pay for the transportation of the personal property to storage, or for the storage of the goods. The owner refuses to pay anything, claiming that the work was defective.

What are your rights?

This article was written by a St. Louis Construction Lawyer and is designed to provide general guidance for Missouri contractors with respect to rights against a homeowner when personal property is transported and stored in conjunction with a remediation project.  

However, the information in this article should never be used as a substitute for advice from a competent construction lawyer, as the facts of each case will be determinative of the contractors’ rights.

Below is a discussion on contractors’ rights against homeowners in the event of nonpayment as it pertains to (1) the work performed, (2) the transportation costs of the personal property, and for (3) the costs of storage for the property.

1. Lien Rights for Transporting Consumer’s Personal Property

The Uniform Commercial Code provides that a warehouseman has a lien on goods that are in his possession for charges for storage, transportation, insurance, and/or labor.  R.S.Mo. § 400.7-209 (2015).

The lien on the personal property does not include a lien on the personal property for the amounts incurred by the homeowner for the remediation services—meaning that the lien only applies to the amount owing for the storage, transportation, and labor (to transport and store the personal property).

“If storage charges are due, a bailee…can assert a warehouseman’s lien under § 400.7-209, RSMo 1978. He may retain the goods or sell them.

If an action is brought against the bailee, he can assert his enforcement of its lien as a defense to his non-delivery. See § 400.7-403(1)(c).” Church v. Richfer Corp., 618 S.W.2d 29 (Mo., 1981). This means that the contractor has the right to hold the personal property as collateral for payment for the transport and storage of the goods.

2. Right to Hold the Owner’s Property for Non-Payment

Generally, you have the right to hold the owner’s property until the debt is satisfied (lien is paid off). After the lien is paid off, who has the responsibility of transporting the property back to the owner? This is likely a subject of negotiation between the parties.  The contractor can often accomplish such a task much easier that the owner as the contractor was the party that moved the property in the first place. Carpenter Tools on Wall If the contractor is responsible for returning the property, however, in most instances, Missouri law may permit them to roll that expense into the warehouseman’s lien on the property. The statute allows the lien for general transportation and storage. Additionally, the insurance company will likely cover, most if not all, of the bill. The contractor can’t rack up exorbitant expenses during the transportation, however, they have to be reasonable. If it’s a large amount of property, the expenses may rise proportionately.

3. Right to Sell the Consumer’s Personal Property

Yes, if you provide the proper notice and strictly comply with the foreclosure procedure enumerated in the Missouri statutes, you can liquidate (foreclose on) the homeowner’s personal property to satisfy the amounts due to you.

As a rule of thumb, a sale of more goods than is apparently necessary to insure satisfaction of the amount owed is not commercially reasonable, except in rare cases.

4. Right to Waive Negligence During the Storage and/or Transport of the Homeowner’s Property

A warehouseman can potentially be held liable for damages to the goods if that damage is the result of the contractor’s failure to exercise the care of an ordinarily prudent person would exercise under like circumstances.

The property owner and the warehouseman have what’s called a bailment relationship.

The bailment, by virtue of the relationship between the owner and the contractor, creates a duty to exercise ordinary care when handling and storing the property.

Can the Contractor Include a Provision in the Contract to Absolve Himself from Liability?

Yes. The Uniform Commercial Code, which was adopted by Missouri, allows the warehouseman to limit the liability exposure to the bailor or, in essence, to waive claims of negligence:

“Damages may be limited by a term in the warehouse receipt or storage agreement limiting the amount of liability in case of loss or damage, and setting forth a specific liability per article or item, or value per unit of weight, beyond which the warehouseman shall not be liable…” R.S.Mo. § 400.7-204

5. Right to Terminate Homeowner’s Storage Lease

A warehouseman may on notifying the person on whose account the goods are held and any other person known to claim an interest in the goods require payment of any charges and removal of the goods from the warehouse at the termination of the period of storage fixed by the document, or, if no period is fixed, within a stated period not less than thirty days after the notification. If the goods are not removed before the date specified in the notification, the warehouseman may sell them in accordance with the provisions of the section on enforcement of a warehouseman’s lien (section 400.7-210). Section 400.7-206.1

Is a Missouri Contractor who stores a Homeowner’s Property governed by the Missouri Warehouse Statute and Self-Storage Facilities Statute?

Chapter 415 of the Missouri Revised Statutes sets forth the persons, entities, and subject matter that govern self-storage facilities.

Most notably, Chapter 415 designates the term “operator” as the owner, operator, lessor or sublessor of a self-service storage facility.

R.S.Mo. Section 415.405, which is the definitions section of Chapter 415, lays out two relevant definitions: (1) Operator and (2) Self-service Storage Facility.

  • Operator is “the owner, operator, lessor or sublessor of a self-service storage facility, or an agent or any other person authorized to manage the facility; except that, the term “operator” does not include a warehouseman, unless the operator issues a warehouse receipt, bill of lading, or other document of title for the personal property stored.
  • Self-Service Storage Facility – “any real property used for renting or leasing individual storage spaces in which the occupants themselves customarily store and remove their own personal property on a self-service basis”

According to the definitions section, operator under the self-storage statutes specifically excludes a “warehouseman.”

Therefore, the Self-Service Storage Facility statutes do not govern contractors who transport and store personal property in conjunction with a remediation project.

What is the Procedure for Foreclosing on a Warehouseman’s Lien in Missouri?

Except as provided in subsection (2), a warehouseman’s lien may be enforced:

  • by public or private sale of the goods in bloc or in parcels,
  • at any time or place and on any terms which are commercially reasonable,
  • after notifying all persons known to claim an interest in the goods.

R.S.Mo. Section 400.7-210. (1)

What does the Lien Sale Notice Have to Include?

  • the amount due,
  • the nature of the proposed sale, and
  • the time and place of any public sale.

*All sales must be carried out in a commercially reasonable manner.

How is Commercially Reasonable Manner Defined?

R.S.MO. 400.9-627 sets forth the elements to categorize a sale as conducted “in a commercially reasonable manner,” as follows, if the disposition is made:

(1) In the usual manner on any recognized market;

(2) At the price current in any recognized market at the time of the disposition; or

(3) Otherwise in conformity with reasonable commercial practices among dealers in the type of property that was the subject of the disposition.

Other methods of carrying out a collection, enforcement, disposition, or acceptance will be commercially reasonable if approved:

(1) In a judicial proceeding;

(2) By a bona fide creditors’ committee;

(3) By a representative of creditors; or

(4) By an assignee for the benefit of creditors.

* The fact that a greater amount could have been obtained by a collection, enforcement, disposition, or acceptance at a different time or in a different method from that selected by the secured party is not of itself sufficient to preclude the secured party from establishing that the collection, enforcement, disposition, or acceptance was made in a commercially reasonable manner.

Enforcement of a Warehouseman’s Lien on Goods Other than Merchant Stored Goods

A warehouseman’s lien on goods other than goods stored by a merchant in the course of his business  may be enforced only as follows:

(a) All persons known to claim an interest in the goods must be notified;

(b) The notification must be delivered in person or sent by registered or certified letter to the last known address of any person to be notified;

(c) The notification must include an itemized statement of the claim, a description of the goods subject to the lien, a demand for payment within a specified time not less than ten days after receipt of the notification, and a conspicuous statement that unless the claim is paid within that time the goods will be advertised for sale and sold by auction at a specified time and place

(d) The sale must conform to the terms of the notification.

(e) The sale must be held at the nearest suitable place to that where the goods are held or stored.

(f) After the expiration of the time given in the notification, an advertisement of the sale must be published once a week for two weeks consecutively in a newspaper of general circulation where the sale is to be held.

The advertisement must include a description of the goods, the name of the person on whose account they are being held, and the time and place of the sale. The sale must take place at least fifteen days after the first publication.

Conclusion

Each case is fact specific.

However, the above describes the general laws that govern a frequent situation in the construction remediation industry.

It is commonplace for contractors performing remediation work to transport and store an owner’s property.

As you can see above there are very specific statutes regarding the Missouri laws that apply to the storage of an owner’s property.

The above discussion includes a few questions that contractors often ask their attorney and the law pertaining to such questions.

Please note that this article is only a general discussion and should not be applied to your case unless and until you consult an experienced construction lawyer to evaluate your specific factual circumstances.

If you are in a similar situation, you should contact an experienced construction law attorney to advise you as there may be statutory nuances that affect your rights.

The above is merely general information regarding statutes and case law in Missouri, which pertain to contractors’ rights on a construction project.

A lawyer should always evaluate the facts of your case to determine whether these rights are applicable.

St. Louis Landlord-Tenant Lawyer

Federal Courthouse St. Louis ArchSt. Louis Landlord-Tenant Litigation Attorney

Are you a landlord looking to resolve issues with a problem tenant?

Perhaps you’re just looking to evict a tenant from your property, so you can get a paying tenant into the property…

In either case, you will likely need a St. Louis landlord-tenant lawyer to help you accomplish this task.

Our lawyers know the intricacies of St. Louis’ landlord-tenant laws and can help you achieve your desired outcome.

Between tenants who refuse to pay, complaints about habitability or warranty issues, and the threat of destruction to the real estate, our attorneys have dealt with a wide array of landlord tenant issues in St. Louis.

We know that it can be difficult and time consuming to follow all of the statutes and regulations pertaining to the landlord-tenant laws and that’s why our attorneys do the legwork for you.

We can advise you of your rights with respect to the tenant and allow you to make an informed decision. The attorney handling your case will then move expeditiously and in a calculated manner to bring about your desired goal.

Our attorneys will not stop with resolving your issue with the tenant, however. The lawyer will advise you as to how you might be able to prevent this landlord-tenant issue in the future.

These prevention techniques can be implemented by the lawyer through proper drafting of the lease agreement, counseling on the St. Louis landlord tenant laws, and taking the necessary precautions.

Some precautions include providing notice or taking other steps to preserve the landlord’s right in the case.

Further, our St. Louis landlord-tenant attorneys will help you execute on any orders or judgments entered by the court in order to free up your property, so you can rent to paying tenants.

If you need assistance with a landlord-tenant issue in St. Louis, contact a litigation attorney here.

St. Louis Commercial Litigation Attorney

Scales of Justice in the Boardroom

Litigation Lawyer

A litigator is a special breed of attorney. Litigation is the most adversarial, intense experience one can face when dealing with the law. That’s why litigators are so special.

To be a litigator you have to be forged through the rigors of heavy motion work and through the trial process.

While the trials you’ve seen on television or movies may seem interesting and exciting, the reality is that they are intense, stressful, and the slip of a tongue can cost thousands to millions of dollars.

But there are other things that can cost or save you thousands to millions of dollars also, and those things are motions.

Good Trial Lawyer v. Good Litigation Attorney

Litigation is not just arguing trials. True litigation attorneys have the ability to craft motions in a manner that limits the other side from asserting claims or defenses. The motion work can, at times, limit their recovery or narrow their case to prevent the admission of certain evidence or preclude damaging testimony.

A lawyer can file various motions throughout the various phases of the case to strengthen your position and limit unwanted evidence.  That’s why it’s important to have a competent St. Louis litigation attorney who can help you file the right motions to protect your rights.

This differs from a good trial lawyer who merely walks into the trial without knowing the contours of the landscape and simply “wings it.”

A good litigation lawyer knows the issues that may arise, is prepared to argue each of these issues with case law or statutes backing his position, and limits many of these issues from ever touching the jurors’ ears, all before the trial even begins.

To carry out such precision in the litigation game, the lawyer has to act with deliberated moves and a well thought-out strategy.

We have attorneys who are trained in doing that.

We represent many corporate clients including privately held companies, publicly traded companies, as well as individuals involved in a number of commercial litigation disputes.

We are capable of representing the foregoing entities and individuals in a number of settings and venues in Missouri, including in arbitrations, in state courts, in federal courts, and in front of administrative agencies.

With the ever changing political and legal environment, our attorneys rely on their technological and business acumen to assist and guide you in taking the necessary steps to protect your most prized possession–your business and the assets you have worked so hard to acquire.

Commercial litigation can be the gateway through which your business thrives or dies. That’s why it is important to find and hire an experienced commercial litigation attorney.

You can trust our attorneys to represent you and your company in a variety of different matters whether you are dealing with a contractual dispute, construction defect claim, partnership dispute, or other serious matter.

We have a wealth of experience litigating for and against commercial entities.

If you’re involved in commercial litigation and need an attorney, we have the resources to provide you an expeditious and competent defense, so you can spend your time focusing on your business and not on litigation.

Call one of our St. Louis Litigation Attorneys today!

St. Louis Real Estate Attorney

Keys to Real Estate

Real Estate Lawyer

Purchasing real estate may be one of the most important decisions that you make in your life. When you’re considering the various options regarding a real estate purchase in St. Louis, you would be well-advised to consult with an experienced attorney who can inform you of your options.

Our attorneys are honored and privileged to assist our clients with a number of different St. Louis real estate transactions and other real property matters on a daily basis.

In our view, a real estate transaction is a process. Like any other process, there are numerous phases which a purchaser of real estate must go through in order to realize a successful transaction.

The first phase includes research and preparation.

Real Estate Research and Preparation

In order to have a smooth real estate transaction, common sense dictates that you need to do the proper research.

Some of this research includes finding the right real estate agent, finding the right attorney, performing background research on the property, performing searches on comparable sales in that area (your real estate agent can usually assist with this).

There are also a number of other things you need to do before diving into the real estate game, and your lawyer and real estate agent can likely assist with any preliminary questions or matters.

Some examples of issues to review before purchasing real estate include, but are not limited to:

  • checking the crime rate in the area in which the property is located
  • public school district in which the property is located
  • access to libraries, parks, malls, major interstates
  • noise from traffic or other disturbances
  • water drainage issues from neighboring properties
  • other general caveats for the buyer are discussed throughout this website

As part of the preparation process, the purchaser needs to be familiar with the material terms of the contract.

There are some complex provisions as well as boilerplate provisions in the typical real estate contract, and your real estate attorney can help you distinguish the two.

This preparation is necessary, so you know what you’re undertaking when you enter into the real estate purchase contract.

The bottom line is that you’re about to make an incredibly large investment, so you probably should rely on the advice of an attorney who deals with real property transactions on a regular basis.

Real Estate Contract Review and Preparation

Many people wait until after a dispute arises to contact an attorney, but you should inform yourself of the terms in the real estate contract as well as have a lawyer review the language contained in the contract.

This should all be done prior to purchasing the property in order to avoid the pitfalls that may accompany the purchase.

Sometimes the realtor may have a form contract that is approved by the local or regional real estate association, and these are often drafted to be fair for both parties.

However, if you have additional leverage in a real estate transaction, or have potential leverage, your attorney can provide suggestions to help you arrive at your desired outcome.

Additionally, there may be boilerplate language in the contract that significantly impacts your rights in the transaction.

Your lawyer can explain these things to you. This is particularly important when the language is complex, and you are unable to understand it.

So, in accordance with the above, regardless of whether you are a buyer or seller of real estate, you should have an attorney prepare or review your agreement to ensure that it is free from potentially hazardous provisions.

As noted above, a real estate transaction often involves a significant amount of money. When a lot of money is involved, logic dictates that the buyer or seller could potentially lose a lot of money if the transaction goes south.

As such, the assistance of an attorney can help you gain, preserve, or prevent the loss of valuable assets and/or money.

We have attorneys with experience litigating issues that arise from a real estate sale, attorneys who prepare all the documentation relating to the sale of property, and counselors who can help guide you and negotiate a home purchase or sale.

If you need assistance, contact a St. Louis Lawyer today.

Entrusting an Attorney to Handle Your Real Estate Transaction

While it may seem cost effective to negotiate the deal on your own, if any problems occur, it’s all on you. Hiring a lawyer to take on some of these issues can often allocate the burden of managing the case yourself.

Plus, you dish off the work to an attorney, whose job is specifically dedicated to litigation and preparing a case for you.

Ultimately, the attorney will take his time pursing the insurance carrier, or the other party with whom you’ve entered into the transaction.

That will allow you more time to focus on your business. If things work out correctly, your claim may even provide for attorney’s fees which would take care of the legal fees.

If you need assistance with a real estate matter, we can provide legal counsel with a number of different matters such as:

  • purchase and sale disputes,
  • construction claims,
  • landlord-tenant disputes,
  • claims involving adverse possession,
  • prescriptive easements,
  • quiet title and
  • other issues arising from or relating to real estate.

In addition to contractual language, other potential dangers in the purchase of property can result from defective titles, undisclosed facts on the seller’s disclosures, liens on the property, contingencies in the contract, and disputes with the real estate that remain unresolved.

These are just a few of the issues we can help you with.

We are happy to hear any real property issue that you have, and if we can’t help you with it, we can assist you in finding a competent attorney who can.

Please continue to research our site for more information and if you need further guidance, contact one of our St. Louis real estate attorneys today.

If you specifically need assistance with litigating a real estate matter, contact a litigation attorney here.