Before you go to court, think:
- Are there other ways to fix my problem without going to court?
- What can the court do?
- What do I want the court to do?
- Do I have a good case?
- Will your landlord sue you in the same action?
- Do you need, and can you get an attorney?
Can you fix your problem outside of court?
Court cases can be lengthy, expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally draining. You can try to solve the problem outside of court:
If you have bad conditions in your apartment:
- Write to your landlord asking them to make repairs. See MADE: Up To Code
- Have you contacted your city or town’s Board of Health or Inspectional Services? See, Getting a Landlord to Make Repairs
- Have you met with other tenants to discuss taking group action?
- Should you withhold rent or use the "repair and deduct" law?
- Are there community groups in your area that work with tenants needing assistance?
If you owe rent,
- Did you ask your landlord for a payment plan you can afford to pay back the rent?
- Can you get help to pay your rent?
If your landlord owes you your security deposit,
- Did you send them a Consumer Protection Law demand letter? See, Getting your security deposit back
What a Court Can Do
- The judge may order your landlord to do things like:
- fix bad conditions,
- turn on the heat,
- fix the plumbing.
- Let you back into your apartment, if your landlord locked you out.
- Pay you money to compensate you for harm you suffered.
- Order a temporary landlord called a “receiver” to make repairs and manage the property. See Getting Repairs Made – Receivership.
- Order your landlord to pay a fine or go to jail, but only if your landlord broke a criminal law.
What court do I go to?
Usually you will go to Housing Court or District Court
Find the housing court where you live.
If your apartment has bad conditions
If your landlord owes you your security deposit
File a Small Claims case in Housing Court, District Court or the Boston Municipal Court if your case is for less than $7,000. See, Protecting your security deposit.
If your landlord commits a crime, contact the police right away. Crimes include entering your apartment without your permission, cutting off your utilities, locking you out, or attacking you. Ask the police to file a criminal complaint. They will give you the name and address of the court who will hear the case. See, Grounds for filing a criminal complaint