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COVID-19 Eviction Court Updates

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed June 2022

How will I know when to go to court?

You will get two notices from the court

The first notice is a Summons and Complaint. It tells you that your landlord is trying to evict you. Do not ignore this notice. You can start to prepare and there are resources that can help you.

The second notice tells you the date of your “first court event.” The first court event is for the landlord and the tenant to meet with a Housing Specialist or a mediator to explore options for resolving the case. This second notice also tells you how to login to your "first court event" online.

If you will have trouble participating online or if you need an interpreter or other call the Court Clerk’s office at the number listed on your Summons and Complaint.

When is my Answer due?

When you get a Summary Process Summons and Complaint, the first step you should take is to file your “Answer” as soon as you can. The Answer explains your legal claims to the court and why your landlord should not evict you.

You must give your Answer to the court and your landlord at least 3 business days before your "first court event."

Find a lawyer to help you fill out your Answer.

If you cannot get a lawyer, fill out your own Answer and Discovery using MADE. You can also find Answer forms in multiple languages in the Answer booklet.

What happens at the first court event?

Your first court even will be by videoconference. Find tips to get ready for court online.

When you log-in, you will talk to a mediator and your landlord or your landlord’s lawyer about the case. The court wants to know if you can reach a settlement agreement with your landlord. They will see if:

  • You can get help paying your rent, or
  • If there are other resources like the Lawyer for the Day Program or the Tenancy Preservation Program that can help you.

You do not have to settle with your landlord at your "first court event." Even if the mediator or the landlord has an idea about how to resolve your case, you do not have to agree. You can still talk to a judge.

  • Do not agree to move out if you do not have another place to live.
  • Do not agree to pay an amount of money that you cannot afford.

If you make an agreement with your landlord, get a copy that is signed by both parties. Keep it in a safe place.

If you do not come to an agreement with the landlord, the court will give you a trial date to present your case. Find more about what steps to take before going to court and what to bring to court.

Learn more about negotiating an agreement.

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