Massachuttes Housing Court Now Has 100% Statewide Jurisdiction
Unbeknownst to many landlord and tenants, the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, signed into law this past summer, included an expansion of the Housing Court to cover 100% of the state. Previously only about 70% of the state was under its jurisdiction. This expansion reorganized case jurisdictions, as well as created new ones, thus causing quite a bit of confusion as to the proper venue to file a lawsuit.
Two Million Additional People Under Jurisdiction
The Housing Court hears several different types of cases. While it does handle all eviction actions, it also claims jurisdiction in (1) civil and criminal actions that involve the health, safety, or welfare of residential property occupants or owners, (2) small claims and civil actions involving personal injury, property damage, breach of contract and discrimination, and (3) code enforcement actions and appeals of local zoning board decisions involving residential property. This being the case, it goes without saying that the Housing Court is an extremely busy one, with a large caseload in any district. This new expansion adds an additional approximately 2 million people to its already loaded dockets.
Transfer By Right
A Plaintiff may choose which court to file a new case in. However, the Defendant may have it transferred to a different division at any time simply by giving the court notice. This is referred to a “transfer by right.” The importance of this right is that due to the expansion to now cover 100% of the state, cases that were previously filed in the District Court in areas that were not previously covered by Housing Court, can now be transferred out of District into Housing in the new divisions. These transfers can provide a separate set of rules to be applied to a case, that may not have applied in District Court alone. For example, a case that was previously filed in Woburn District Court, which was not previously a jurisdiction of the Housing Court, could now be transferred to the Northeastern Division of the Housing Court if the Defendant requested such.
New Divisions Created While Old Ones Are Renamed
The new and reorganized Housing Court divisions are as follows:
- Sixth Division is now Metro South Division
- Boston Division becomes Eastern Division and encompasses all of Suffolk County, Arlington, Belmont, Brookline, Cambridge, Medford, Newton and Somerville.
- Worcester Division becomes Central Division and encompasses all of Worcester County, Ashland, Framingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hudson, Marlborough, Natick, Sherborn, Sudbury and Wayland.
- Northeastern Division
- Southeastern Division
If you have questions about your tenant-landlord issue, please get in touch today.