What happens during an eviction
The eviction process starts when a landlord serves a tenant a Notice to Quit. The case then goes to court and a decision is eventually reached. Advice and legal resources for tenants facing an eviction can be found throughout this guide and on the Help for Tenants Facing Eviction page.
The Eviction ProcessThe Eviction Process
To start an eviction, the landlord must provide a written Notice to Quit (Eviction Notice) informing the tenant that they intend to end the tenancy. Eviction notices are usually served for one of three reasons:
- Non-payment of rent
- Lease violation: the tenant did not follow the lease terms.
- Tenancy at will (no fault): If the tenant does not have a lease, the landlord can end the tenancy even if rent has been paid and the terms of the lease have been followed.
Landlords must follow the legal process and cannot force a tenant out by changing the locks or shutting off the utilities. They are also required to inform tenants of their rights through the Housing Stability Notification Act.
Claims made against the landlord by the tenant. Counterclaims, if successful, can reduce the amount a tenant owes, or require the landlord to pay the tenant.
However, if a tenant is being evicted for a lease violation, they cannot file a counterclaim.
- Security Deposit Law Violation: The landlord did not properly take, account for, or return the security deposit.
- Breach of Warranty of Habitability: A landlord did not provide safe and decent housing.
- Breach of Quiet Enjoyment: The landlord unreasonably interfered with the use of the apartment.
- Improper Rent of Adjustment: This is a counterclaim for tenants in subsidized or public housing. It happens when the rent is not accurately set or adjusted, or the landlord seeks money that was not owed.
A request that the court throw out the landlord’s case. If it’s successful, this ends the existing case and the landlord will need to start the process over again to evict the tenant.
- A Notice to Quit Was Not Delivered: Landlords must give the tenant the Notice to Quit before filing a case in court.
- Complaint Filed Too Soon: The Summary Process Complaint was received by the tenant before the time period stated in the Notice to Quit.
- The Tenant Cleared a Non-Payment: Based on a written lease, the tenant paid all of the rent owed.
- Notice and Hearing Rights Denied: In certain types of housing, tenants have additional rights to discuss the eviction with the landlord, or to have a grievance hearing. If these rights were denied to the tenant the eviction case can be dismissed.
- Housing Court judges only hear housing cases.
- Housing Court staff have greater expertise in housing matters.
- Boston Housing Court offers mediation.
- Legal help for housing court cases is available through the Lawyer for the Day Program.
HOW TO TRANSFER A CASE:
- Complete the Notice to Transfer Form.
- There is no cost to transfer a case.
- The Notice to Transfer Form must be filed by the day before the original court date.
- File the Notice to Transfer with the District Court, Housing Court, and the landlord.
Tenants should make sure they have all of their paperwork and witnesses ready.
- copies of the rental agreement
- rent receipts
- pictures or documents of the apartment’s condition.
- citations from Inspectional Services, if an apartment condition is at issue.
Go to the court right away and seek an emergency stay (delay). There may have been a court hearing that you missed.
Go to the court that issued the execution and file a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). You have to pay a fee to file the request. But, the fee may be waived depending on your income. If allowed by the court, this can give you a few more days (often about 10) to move out.