Where can I get help?
Legal Aid Programs
Legal aid programs in Massachusetts provide free information, advice or representation to low-income people. Some programs help tenants fill out court papers before their court date. The kind of help you can get depends on where you live, your income and the kind of problem you have. Use the Massachusetts Legal Resource Finder to find your local legal aid program, www.masslrf.org
Legal Referral Services
If you cannot get help from a free program, and need to pay for a lawyer, see the list of Lawyer Referral Services at MassLegalServices masslegalservices.org/content/lawyer-referral-services.
Contact a Lawyer Referral Service even if you are not sure you can pay for a lawyer. Sometimes, a Lawyer Referral Service can refer you to a reduced-fee lawyer. In some cases, you only need to pay lawyer’s fees if you win. And in some cases, the other side will pay your lawyer’s fees if you win.
Lawyer for the Day Program
Some courts have volunteer lawyers who can give you advice and help negotiate your case. Always ask the clerk if a Lawyer for the Day Program is available. Lawyer for the Day is free.
Bring your paperwork and arrive early so you have time to discuss your case. For a list of Lawyer for the Day programs in Housing Court and when they are available see the court’s website www.mass.gov/service-details/lawyer-for-the-day-programs
A mediator is a person who helps you and the landlord reach an agreement.
- Housing Courts have Housing Specialists. They are court staff trained to help landlords and tenants reach agreement.
- Some District Courts have volunteers who mediate cases between landlords and tenants.
- Some communities have mediation programs that can help you negotiate an agreement before a court case is even filed.
Tenancy Preservation Program
If you are in Housing Court and you or someone in your household is disabled, ask the clerk where the Tenancy Preservation Program is. The Tenancy Preservation Program works with tenants facing eviction that is related to a disability. Disabilities include mental health, substance abuse, and age-related disabilities. The Program helps individuals and families with children. It is voluntary and works with the landlord and tenant to develop a plan to preserve the tenancy.