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How to Format a Demand Letter (Free Template Included)

Camila Lopez - Demand Letter - July 5, 2024

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Contents

    When a dispute arises, a demand letter can be an effective way to communicate your demands to a business or individual. However, it's important to ensure that your demand letter is properly formatted in order to be taken seriously and achieve your desired outcome.

    In the article below, we will show you how to properly format a demand letter so that it's clear, professional, and effective. We will also go over key elements to include in demand letters and what to do after sending a demand letter.

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create and format a demand letter? Check out our demand letter tool.

    What is the Purpose of a Demand Letter? 

    Demand letters serve many purposes and are an effective pre-litigation tool we recommend everyone use. One of the primary benefits of demand letters is they can help you settle your dispute without having to go to court

    Here are at least four more purposes demand letters serve: 

    1. Demand letters help you explain your position to the other party. 

    2. Demand letters can help open settlement discussions

    3. Demand letters act as notice of your intent to sue. 

    4. Demand letters can be used as evidence in the event legal action is taken.

    Do demand letters actually work? Learn more here.

    Key Elements of a Demand Letter

    There are no formal requirements on how to write a demand letter, and what you include in a demand letter will vary based on your specific situation. However, here are some common elements you should consider including in any good demand letter: 

    • A statement of facts. Your demand letter should provide a clear and concise description of the issue or dispute at hand. Consider discussing relevant dates, times, locations, etc. 

    • Your demands or requests. Your demand letter should clearly state the action you are requesting the recipient to take. For example, are you requesting a refund or compensation for damages? 

    • A deadline. Your demand letter should include a response deadline (typically 14 days) by which the recipient needs to respond to your demand letter. 

    • A statement of intent to sue. Your demand letter should conclude with a statement that if you don’t receive a response within the deadline provided, you intend to sue in small claims court. 

    We have compiled a chart of all our sample demand letter templates by issue, type, and recipient.

    How to Format Your Demand Letter

    As discussed, there is no one way to write a demand letter; however, there are some key elements all well-crafted demand letters have. Below, we discuss how to format these elements into an effective, and easy-to-read demand letter. 

    Step 1. Include The Correct Contact Information at the Top of the Letter

    At the top of your letter, you want to make sure you include your current contact information and the recipient's contact information:

    • Take some time to figure out where you are sending your letter to and who is going to receive the letter. 

    • Consider how you will be sending this letter. If you have no way of finding out the recipient's address, consider what other information you do have access to. You can send a demand letter by mail, email, text message, etc

    Learn more about how to send a demand letter. 

    Step 2. Establish the Facts and Make Your Demands in the Body of the Letter

    After writing down the contact information, include a salutation. Address the recipient in a professional manner, such as "Dear Mr. Smith" or "To Whom It May Concern." From there, you want to write the body of the letter: 

    • Include the relevant background facts of the case. This section should include enough detail to provide context for your demand. For example, are you sending a demand letter to your landlord for failing to return your security deposit? If so, include the rental property address, how long you rented the property for, how much your security deposit was, and by when your landlord should have returned the security deposit. 

    • State your demands. Clearly state your demand, such as the amount of money owed or the specific action you're requesting. Make sure to be as clear as possible so the other party understands what you are asking for. 

    • Include how you would like to receive payment. If you are requesting payment, make sure to include where you would like payment to go. For example, if your ex-roommate owes you money, tell them to Venmo or Zelle you.  

    Step 3. Include Additional Information  

    Here are a couple of other elements you may want to include in your letter: 

    • Include other forms of settlement you are open to. For example, let the other party know you are open to mediation or discussing settlement options informally over the phone. 

    • Attach any pertinent evidence. You may have photos or documents (like copies of receipts) you can attach to your demand letter.

    Step 4. Provide a Deadline and Sign Your Demand Letter at the Bottom 

    Close the letter by thanking the other party for their attention and indicating that you will take further action if necessary. 

    • For example, include a line that states you intend to sue in small claims court if they don’t respond to your demand letter 

    • Provide a deadline by which they should respond. Don’t leave it up to them to get back to you whenever. We recommend that you give the other party 14 days to respond before you take legal action. 

    • Don’t forget to sign your name at the bottom of your letter. 

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create and format a demand letter? Check out our demand letter tool.

    How to Send a Demand Letter

    After drafting your demand letter in Word or Google Docs, you will want to send the letter to the other party. In general, there is no specific way you should send your demand letter. Instead, there are multiple methods you can use to send your demand letter.

    Here are some ways you can send a demand letter: 

    1. By mail. This is a very common option and includes sending your demand letter by regular mail or certified mail. 

    2. By email. If you have the recipient's correct email address, you may be able to send your demand by email. 

    3. By text message. This is another good option if you don’t have someone’s address. 

    4. By hand. Of course, you could hand deliver your demand letter. However, if you hire someone to deliver your demand letter, this could get expensive. 

    Next Steps After Sending a Demand Letter

    After sending a demand letter, you will have to wait to see if the recipient responds or ignores your demand letter

    If you receive no response, here are a couple of steps you can take: 

    1. Send a final demand letter. 

    2. File a complaint with the Attorney General. 

    3. Sue in small claims court. 

    Send a Final Demand Letter

    Consider sending a final demand letter if you have already sent a demand letter to the recipient. The recipient may just need one final notice or another opportunity to consider settling the dispute.

    Learn about the reasons why you may not have received a response to your demand letter.

    File a Complaint With the Attorney General

    The Attorney General serves as the highest legal officer in a state and is responsible for overseeing a wide range of legal matters, including the enforcement of consumer protection and other regulatory laws.

    Additionally, the Office of the Attorney General is tasked with handling consumer complaints made against various entities and individuals, such as landlords, mechanics, and contractors. The process of filing a complaint with the Attorney General's office is typically straightforward, as it can be done through online forms or hotlines. 

    Here is our 50-state guide on how to file an Attorney General complaint.  

    Sue in Small Claims Court 

    If, after sending a final demand letter, you still haven’t been paid, consider suing in small claims court.  

    Small claims courts were designed to provide an accessible and cost-effective way for individuals and businesses to resolve their disputes without the need for a lawyer. In most cases, the parties involved will represent themselves in court.

    Here are some common types of cases filed in small claims courts: 

    • Your landlord did not return your security deposit.

    • Someone hit your car and won’t pay to reimburse you for the costs of fixing your car. 

    • Your clients won't pay you for services rendered or issue unjustified chargebacks

    • You lent someone money, and they won't pay you back.

    • You hired a mechanic to repair your car, and they did a terrible job.

    • You contracted with a painter to come paint your home, but they never show up. 

    • You paid a contractor to fix your roof, but they never showed up.

    • An airline lost or damaged your bags. 

    • Your tenant refuses to pay rent.

    How much can I sue for in small claims court? 

    The amount you can sue for in small claims court is known as the small claims limit. This amount varies by state and even by court. 

    This means you can only sue up to that amount in small claims court. If you want to sue for more than the small claims limit, you will have to waive whatever amount is over the limit or consider suing in a regular court (however, this is going to be more expensive). 

    How long do you have to sue in small claims court? 

    States have set deadlines, called statutes of limitations, that let you know by when you should sue someone. These deadlines will vary by state and by type of claim. For example, if you are filing a small claims lawsuit against a contractor for breach of contract, you would need to look up the breach of contract statute of limitations in your state. 

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create and format a demand letter? Check out our demand letter tool.

    Author

    Camila Lopez

    Legal Educator @ People Clerk. Camila holds a law degree and is a certified mediator. Her passion is breaking down complicated legal processes so that people without an attorney can get justice.

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