Many buy to let landlords will be shocked to see that builders consider them cowboy clients.

The builders claim cowboy clients fail to pay their bills and make unfair demands on them.

Research by the Federation of Master Builders defines cowboy clients as customers who delay or fail to pay their bills without good reason, argue about non-existent faults or make unreasonable demands on builders.

Three out of four builders consider cowboy clients a serious concern for their businesses because of payment delays.

One in four have had to wait four months or more for payment, while a fewer than a third are paid within 30 days of issuing an invoice.

As a result, one in 10 have teetered on the edge of going out of business, while a fifth have had to rein in business plans due to cash flow problems.

FMB director of external affairs Sarah McMonagle said:

“There are so many horror stories of people being duped by cowboy builders. However, our research shows that there’s a flip side to this story with three quarters of small construction firms being hampered by cowboy clients.

“Typical cowboy client behaviour can include a demand for the builder to complete tasks not included in the original brief or quote and for no extra payment. The worst type of cowboy client seeks to delay or withhold payment on spurious grounds, for instance by discovering make-believe faults

The FMB recommends builders and clients agree a written contract that includes a detailed list of works to be undertaken, when construction is due to complete and a payment schedule.

“Clients rightly demand a high level of service from their builder, but home owners and landlords also need to keep their end of the bargain by paying on time.”