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What happens during an eviction

Learn more about the process involved in an eviction case, and what happens before, during, and after court.

Before court

Landlord gives tenant written notice

To start the process, a landlord gives a tenant a Notice to Quit. The Notice to Quit states that the landlord plans to end the tenancy.

Landlord starts court case

A tenant will receive a Summons and Complaint. This is the legal document that starts the court process. The Summons and Complaint states the landlord’s claims. It also states when and where the parties must appear for court.

Tenant responds to landlord’s case

A tenant can respond to the Summons and Complaint by filing and serving:

  • an Answer
  • Counterclaims, or
  • a Motion to Dismiss or for Discovery, or both.

To prepare for a trial, a tenant should gather all the documents and witnesses that support their case. We have more information on how to respond to an eviction.

Boston Housing Court

If a case is filed in a District Court, it can be transferred to the Boston Housing Court. We created a separate page with information about the court, and why you might consider transferring your case.

Boston Housing Court information

During court

Appearing in court

A tenant must appear in court on the date and time listed in the Summons and Complaint. If they don’t, they may have a default judgment against them.

Finding a resolution through mediation

On the date of trial, a tenant may be able to resolve their case through mediation or negotiation. They can do this instead of going to trial. If both sides reach a deal through mediation or negotiation, the case ends. Each party must stick to the terms of the agreement, or the case could go back to court.

If a tenant and landlord go to trial

A judge or jury will hear the facts and review evidence, including documents and photos. After the trial, the court will issue a judgment.

The judgment is the decision on who is entitled to possession of the unit. It will also state whether either side is awarded money damages. A losing party can appeal a judgment.

If a tenant loses their case

A judge will issue an execution

This means a judge orders a tenant to move out. This happens if:

  • there is a judgment for the landlord for possession, and
  • there is no appeal, or the appeal isn’t successful.

The execution is a legal document. It allows a sheriff or constable to move you and your belongings out of an apartment.

Tenant given notice of move out

Before moving you out, a sheriff or constable must serve you with a 48-Hour Notice or Notice to Vacate.

You and your stuff removed from unit

After providing a 48-Hour Notice, the Sheriff or Constable can remove your belongings from the apartment. Your landlord can also change the locks. There are specific rules on where — and for how long — a landlord must store your stuff.