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How to Send a Demand Letter

Camila Lopez - Demand Letter - June 6, 2024

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Contents

    The first step many people take to resolve disputes against other individuals or businesses is to send a demand letter. A demand letter outlines a set of requests to the other party. But how do you actually go about sending a demand letter? 

    In this article, we discuss how you can send a demand letter and items you should consider before sending a demand letter.

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

    Ways to Send a Demand Letter 

    A few notes before we begin: 

    • For the most part, there is no formal requirement that states how you need to send a demand letter. The exceptions to this general rule are if you are suing under a specific law that requires you to send a demand letter in a specific way (this is rare). 

    • You can also choose to send your demand letter using more than one of the methods below. For example, you can send your demand letter via email and mail if you would like to be sure the person or business received your demand. 

    • The method you select to send your letter will depend on (1) how formal you would like to be and (2) whether you have their address, phone number, or email. 

    • Generally, it’s better to find the individual or business’s address as you will need the address if you need to sue them in small claims later on. 

    1. Via Mail

    Sending a demand letter by mail may seem old-fashioned, but it tends to be the most effective way to be taken seriously by the other party. It also helps you determine if you have the other party’s correct address as you will later need this if you sue them in small claims (if the letter is undelivered, you will know they likely aren’t located at that address). 

    USPS

    You can send your demand letter via USPS, FedEx, or UPS. When selecting how to send the letter using USPS, there are several ways you can request tracking for your letter: 

    • USPS tracking (“Provides the date and time of delivery or attempted delivery.”), 

    • Certified mail (“Provides proof of mailing at time of mailing and the date and time of delivery or attempted delivery”, or 

    • Certified mail with Return Receipt (you will get back a green postcard in the mail with the recipient’s signature). 

    USPS explains the different ways you can mail on their website.

    You will ideally want to purchase tracking for your letter because the tracking information lets you know if the person or business received the letter. You will also want this proof in case you escalate your dispute to small claims and the other party tries to deny knowing they had a problem with you in the first place. 

    Be careful if you are sending a demand letter to someone at a home address with a signature required, as it may go undelivered if the person is not home to sign (or if they sign illegibly, it won’t be clear who accepted the letter). 

    How to find an address for a business:

    • Google

    • Search the Secretary of State registration in the state they have a headquarter or office

    • Better Business Bureau

    • Invoices or Receipts

    How to find an address for an individual:

    • Google their name, phone number, or previous address

    • Hire a private investigator

    Sending the letter to a registered agent:

    If you are sending a letter to a business, you can also consider sending the letter to their registered agent. A registered agent is an individual or other business appointed by the company to receive legal documents on its behalf. You can find the registered agent information on the company’s registration with the Secretary of State where they are registered.  

    2. By Email

    You can also send your demand letter via email. This is a good option if you don’t have someone’s address. However, if you escalate your dispute to small claims, you will need to have the other party’s address so you may want to spend some time finding the other party’s address. 

    Sending a demand letter via email is common if you are sending a letter to a client who owes you past-due invoices

    If you are concerned about whether or not the person or business actually received and read your email, here are some tips: 

    • Some email programs allow you to enable a “read receipt” feature. Here is a support page to help you enable this feature if you have a Gmail account. 

    • Find third-party plugins or extensions. You may also search for a free “read receipt” plugin online that you can download to your computer. 

    • You can also include yourself as a recipient on the demand letter email (“CC”). This way, you can receive an exact copy of what the other person receives. 

    If you are going to send your demand letter by email, make sure you have the person or business’s correct email address. If the person or business has emailed you before, this would be an important factor. If you need to escalate your dispute to small claims, you want to be prepared to refute the other party’s excuses that this is the first time they are hearing about the problem. 

    3. By Text Message 

    This is another good option if you don’t have someone’s address (but as was mentioned in the previous section, it may be worthwhile finding the other party’s address). You can take a picture of the letter and text them the picture. 

    This is one of the least formal methods of sending a demand letter and works best if you have a relationship with the other person. 

    Just as with email, make sure you know this is the person's correct phone number. You may be asked in court how you know the phone number was the correct one. If they have texted you from that number, it’s very likely that’s their number.

    One negative aspect of texting your demand letter is that the other party may have blocked your number and your letter wouldn’t be delivered. 

    4. By Hand 

    Of course, you could hand deliver your demand letter. This is the most expensive method especially if you need to hire someone to deliver the letter for you. By hand delivering your demand letter, you are guaranteeing that the letter was delivered. However, this may not be the best method for sending a demand letter to a business if you don’t know who the recipient should be. For example, does your letter need to go to the company’s legal team, or will handing this offer to the receptionist be enough? 

    Further, delivering the letter in person can seem confrontational, which may not be the best approach depending on the nature of the dispute and the relationship between you and the other person. You should avoid personally hand-delivering the letter if you know the other party. 

    5. By Fax

    Sending a demand letter by fax is somewhat outdated at this point, though, as most people and even businesses don’t have fax machines anymore (and almost everyone uses email instead).  

    Sometimes, you will find in a company’s terms and conditions a fax number to the legal department of the business. 

    Does the Law Require You to Send Your Demand Letter a Certain Way? 

    Most state statutes, court rules, or federal acts don’t require you to send your demand letter in a specific manner. However, if you know your claims are based on a specific state or federal statute, it is important for you to confirm this is the case

    When reviewing these laws, you should review the section that discusses any legal notice requirements. For example, under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA), you are required to send a written notice to the business prior to taking legal action for any violations under the act. However, the DTPA does not discuss the manner in which written notice should be sent. 

    Many states have their own version of a Consumer Protection Act, and most of these acts do require some type of written notice to be sent to a party before you can sue them for violations of the act. Make sure you review your state’s consumer protection laws and look out for these possible requirements.  

    Do You Need to Hire a Lawyer to Send a Demand Letter?

    There is also no formal requirement that states you need to hire a lawyer to send or write your demand letter. Even though you can send a demand letter on your own, consider the following factors when deciding whether to hire a lawyer.

    • Legal fees can add up quickly. Even though you are only considering hiring a lawyer to draft and send a demand letter, the cost may not be worth it, depending on how much your claim is for. 

    • How complicated is your case? For some, it may be worthwhile to hire a lawyer right from the start because of the nature of their claims. For example, does your case involve a car accident where you were injured or not injured? If you were personally injured, it may be worth consulting with an attorney, as personal injury law is very nuanced. Personal injury lawyers tend to charge on a contingency, which means that you don’t pay unless you win and likely included in their representation is sending the other party a demand letter. 

    Learn more about the pros and cons of hiring a lawyer to write and send a demand letter

    What To Do After Sending a Demand Letter 

    Keep the Demand Letter for Your Records 

    Once you have sent the letter, keep it in your records. In the event, you do end up filing a small claims lawsuit, you can bring it to the hearing and show it to the judge. Your local small claims court may require you to ask for payment prior to filing a suit, and this way, you can show them you satisfied the requirement. It is also important to keep a copy of the demand letter in your records in case the person or business claims they didn’t receive the letter and didn’t know about the problem.

    Wait For a Response 

    After you send your demand letter, you will need to wait for the person or business’s response. You should expect some type of response within the deadline you provided in your demand letter. 

    Learn about what to do if you don’t receive a response to your letter.

    Sue in Small Claims Court 

    If you don’t receive a response or the response you receive is inadequate, it may be time to sue in small claims court. Small claims court is a type of court that handles disputes involving small amounts of money, typically for up to $10,000. The proceedings in small claims courts are typically faster and less formal than those in other courts and are often designed for people to represent themselves without the need for an attorney.

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create 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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