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What is a letter of demand and when should I use one?

A letter of demand is simply a letter that sets out

  • what you want someone else to do
  • with a time limit, and
  • with a consequence for what will happen if the other person doesn’t do what you want them to within the time limit.

A good letter of demand is clear, concise and matter-of-fact.  While it might be therapeutic to go into a great detail about the rights (of your claim)  and  wrongs (of the other person’s actions) and tempting to use some intemperate language it is best to keep emotion out of a letter of demand.  Your tone, as well as your words, should convey that you are serious about your claim, that you hope it can be resolved amicably, but that you are prepared to take further action if it can’t.

A letter of demand is useful if things have been going back and forward for a while and nothing is getting resolved.  Last week we assisted someone who was seeking a return of an overpayment of rent at the end of a tenancy.  She had been trying to resolve the issue for three weeks and the rental agency had promised they would pay, but just kept not paying.

Initially we helped with providing some wording for an email demanding repayment for our client to send herself.  There was no response to this, so we followed up with a letter of demand on our letterhead.  This produced a response within hours.  Sometimes it’s not the letter itself, but the fact that you have got a lawyer to write a letter that lets the other person know you are serious about getting your issue resolved.  It certainly worked that way in this case.