|This page is used in the Consumer Law Lesson Module, a law-related ESL lesson for newcomers to Canada.|
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by People's Law School in March 2017.|
If you hire someone to perform a service, there are some additional legal issues to consider beyond those when you make a purchase.
Your legal rights
Suppose you hire someone to do improvements on your home. You have entered into a contract, a legally recognized agreement.
Similar to when you make a purchase, both you and the party you hire have legal rights and obligations:
- The other party is not allowed to mislead you to convince you to hire them. For example, a plumber isn’t allowed to say that your shower needs replacing when it only needs a new washer.
- The other party is not allowed to act unfairly towards you or knowingly take advantage of you. For example, a contractor who knows that you just bought your first home and are financially stretched can’t press you to do a luxury kitchen renovation that they know you can’t afford.
- With some service contracts, you can change your mind during a "cooling-off period". For example, if you hired a house painter after they came to your door to seek your business, you have 10 days after you receive a copy of the contract to cancel it.
In addition, the law says that when you contract with someone to perform a service, the person you hire must:
- use reasonable care
- do the work in a "proper and workmanlike manner"
- use materials of reasonable quality
You have a right to expect that the work will be:
- finished by the date you have agreed, or within a reasonable time if you haven't agreed on a date
- provided at the cost you have agreed, or at a reasonable cost if you haven't agreed on the cost
Getting a written contract
When you hire someone to perform a service, it is best to have a written contract that is clear about what you have agreed.
The contract should include this information:
- name and address of both parties
- detailed description of the work to be done
- who is to complete the work
- who is responsible for getting and paying for any necessary approvals and materials
- when work will start and when it will end
- detailed breakdown of the cost (including labour, any materials used, and taxes and fees)
- how and when payment will be made
- what will happen if you and the other party cannot agree
The wording dealing with what will happen if you and the other party cannot agree does not need to be complicated. You could say something like:
- "If we have a disagreement under this contract, we will first try to resolve it with the help of a mediator. We will each pay half of the mediator’s fees."
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