While demand letters may be written for several causes, most are written when somebody else owes you some money. There is not one single layout for crafting a letter of demand. However, the following guidelines are applicable and will help you to draft an effective demand letter. In general, a demand letter includes:
- what payment or action is demanded;
- why the payment or action is being demanded;
- what are the consequences for non-payment; and,
- a time limit time limit to comply with the demand letter.
The aim of the letter is often to persuade the other party into paying up, so we advise to use a formal tone which will have more impact. However, if the relationship is very personal (friend or relative), it won’t be effective. Before you start compiling the letter, consider the relationship you have with the person who owes you the money. This consideration will help to determine the tone of the demand letter. If you are not going to hire an attorney to do this for you, it’s important to draft the demand letter with a rational tone, and with little emotion as possible, which is based on actual facts.
Note that after this letter is received, the relationship with this person is damaged, and might never be back to the level as it was before. If this demand letter is sent to a business, contractor, freelancer, individual with whom you may have future dealings, please consider these consequences.
Structure of a Demand letter
The first part, the introduction of the reason of the demand letter, will be a review of the facts that caused writing this letter. The facts are the important component and the basis of your demand. Therefore we advise for getting the facts straight, which is also a good preparation if this matter ends up in court.
The next part will discuss the services or actions you performed, that caused why the person owes you the money. It can be that you did work for him/her, which was never paid for? Often a demand letter is written because someone borrowed money and the debtor refused to pay it back. Also if personal injuries occur, or if the property is destroyed without having any reimbursement. This section should be flawless, clear and summarizing.
In the next part, you will outline the consequences for non-payment. Remember here that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar; so you want to be polite and respectful. Considering the demand letter is by nature a threatening letter, it’s better to keep the facts straight and there’s no need to express extra aggression. The aim is to reach an agreement, which both parties can live with.
Instead of threatening to take them to court, you could suggest a meeting to discuss options or perhaps enter mediation. Remember that an angry letter may bring about an aggressive response and further postponement of a resolution. If the aim is to put the matter to rest as fast as possible, writing an offensive demand letter is not a good approach.
Finally, in the last part of the demand letter, you should always mention a period of time that this matter must be solved: the deadline. Always consider to give a reasonable time frame which is workable to receive the payment of dept, or agree to a payment schedule. Make it very clear that he/she must respond to the letter within a set time period. If you leave it ambiguous, you are setting yourself up for further delays.
Make sure you are crafting a letter that is professionally looking. Now that the letter is written and sent (preferably registered mail) sit back and wait until the offered time is expired. In any case, do not call or harass or try to intimidate the other party.
Our legal templates are all screened by a Legal professional. Download this Template if you are in this situation and you need a Formal Notice Letter, and save yourself the time, costs or effort!