Updated October 17, 2022
Does somebody owe you money but refuses to pay? Did a contractor you hired leave a job unfinished? Does your new home have a latent defect?
If so, you may need to write a formal demand letter. On this page, you’ll find a downloadable demand letter template to help you get started. You’ll also find a quick rundown of how to write one, and when to use them.
Feel free to use one of these downloadable demand letter templates. There is one template for use in Quebec, and another for the remaining provinces.
Please note that the content of these documents is for informational purposes only and has no legal value.
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A demand letter (also called a “lawyer’s letter” or “formal notice”) is a document seeking to resolve a dispute over a payment or obligation owed by one party to another, in a particular way and within a given time frame. It is a way of resolving disputes without going to court. For some legal proceedings, a formal notice is required.
In the case of latent defect, the complainant must give the defendant written notice before sending a demand letter.
If you are owed payment or services from another party, but they refuse to pay or provide service, you can write a demand letter. This letter simply asks for payment or fulfilment of services.
You may also write a demand letter if someone owes you for damaging your property, for example. Or, perhaps you’ve paid a contractor to renovate your kitchen and they haven’t finished the job.
While you can certainly write your own letter, a letter sent from a law firm will carry more weight—especially if the dispute is complicated or involves a large sum of money. A lawyer will also be able to use their legal experience to make sure the letter includes all the relevant points.
Regardless of who writes the letter, you must send it by registered mail. You also need to keep a copy of the document, along with confirmation of delivery in order to prove that the recipient received the formal notice.
A demand letter should include the following information:
Remember to be polite and respectful in the letter; an aggressive and threatening tone will not help resolve the issue. In addition, make sure that the information you provide in the letter is accurate and without baseless assumptions—the letter could be used against you in court! Do not ask for more than what you are owed.
You may use any method to send the letter, as long as you can prove that the other party received it. The most common method used is by registered mail, but you can also send it by bailiff or email, or deliver it in person.
If you deliver the letter in person, make sure the recipient confirms he or she received it by signing the document. You can also deliver the letter with a witness present.
If you write it yourself, you’re looking at around $20 for postal and administrative fees. If you use a lawyer, the estimated cost is $160—or more. These costs are not recoverable, even if you win the dispute.
Once you have successfully prepared and sent the demand letter, there are a few possible outcomes:
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