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File a small claim in the Boston Municipal Court, District Court, or Housing Court

Learn how to file a small claim in the Boston Municipal Court (BMC), District Court, or Housing Court.

District, Housing, and Boston Municipal Courts

The Details of File a small claim in the Boston Municipal Court, District Court, or Housing Court

What you need for File a small claim in the Boston Municipal Court, District Court, or Housing Court

The easiest way to file a small claim is to file online using guide and file. The program will walk you through how to fill out your forms using plain language.The person or business filing the claim is called the plaintiff. The person or business being sued is called the defendant. Unless your claim is based on property damage caused by an automobile accident, it can’t be more than $7,000. However, the claim may be subject to statutory damages of more than $7,000. (i.e., Consumer protection cases or certain landlord/tenant cases).

Before you begin, you should know:

  1. The proper name and address of each party — It’s important that each plaintiff and defendant is accurately named and identified. Use proper names, not nicknames. A plaintiff or defendant can be:
    1. A person
    2. A person doing business under a trade name (d/b/a= "doing business as") — Ex: Robert Jones d/b/a Acme Building. Verify the name by calling the city or town hall where the business is located. Any entity that does business under a trade name is required to register in the local city or town clerk's office where the business is located.
    3. A corporation — Ex.: Jones Electric Co., Inc. or Jones Electric Corp. To find the legal name and address of a corporation, see the Corporate Records Division of the Secretary of State’s Office or call (617) 727-2800.  If you call, be sure to get the names and addresses of the officers of the corporation (you may need this information later if you win your case.) However, don’t forget that you’re suing the corporation, not the officer(s), although the officers would personally be summoned to court if you win against the corporation they don’t pay you.
    4. A trust —  Ex.: Robert Jones, as Trustee of Acme Trust. If the defendant is a trust, list the title of the trust and the name, address, and phone number of the principal trustee.
  2. The papers, dates, and information you’ll need to accurately explain what your claim is about — For example, you may need a copy of a contract, the date of an accident, the specific amounts of any damages, or the last 4 digits of the account number if you have it.

If you're filing because of money owed to you in your trade or business, see Special requirements if the claim arose from business for information on additional requirements.

Where you will file

You can file a small claim in 1 of 3 court departments: District Court, BMC or Housing Court.

You may bring a small claim in a District Court or BMC where:

  • At least 1 plaintiff lives, works, or has a business or
  • At least 1 defendant lives, works, or has a place of business or
  • The rental property is located (if you’re filing a claim about a landlord-tenant issue).

You may bring a small claim in a Housing Court where:

  • The rental property is located (if you’re filing a claim about a landlord-tenant issue).

Find your court using the links below (be sure to view the information about which cities/towns each court serves):

Fees for File a small claim in the Boston Municipal Court, District Court, or Housing Court

There are filing fees associated with processing small claims that you’ll need to pay the court when you file.

Name Fee Unit
Filing fee for claims $500 and under $40 each
Filing fee for claims of $501 to $2,000 $50 each
Filing fee for claims of $2,001 to $5,000 $100 each
Filing fee for claims of $5,001 to $7,000 $150 each
Filing fee for claims above $7,000 (arising from automobile accident) $150 each
Service fee if you choose to e-file your small claim $7 each

How to file File a small claim in the Boston Municipal Court, District Court, or Housing Court

You can file online using the guided interview for filing small claims. This program will help you fill out the forms to file a small claim by conducting an interview that asks you questions you can answer in plain language. It won’t give you legal advice.

Once you’ve completed the interview, the program will generate the filled-in forms, and you will be able to electronically file the completed forms in the proper court. There is a $7 e-filing fee. If you’d prefer to file your forms in person, you can print them out and bring them to the correct court once you’ve finished the guided interview.

To file in person, start online using the guided interview for filing small claims. This program will help you fill out the forms to file a small claim by conducting an interview that asks you questions you can answer in plain language. It won’t give you legal advice. Once you’ve completed the interview, the program will generate the filled-in forms, and you will have the option to download and print them and bring them to the correct court instead of e-filing them.

You may mail the completed form and filing fee to the Clerk-Magistrate's office of the court where you’re filing your case. Please see “In person” for instructions on how to fill out the form.

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