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
See, Bad Conditions: Getting your landlord to make repairs
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