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

Learn how to file a small claims action in the Boston Municipal Court, 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 person or business filing the claim is called the “plaintiff.” The person or business being sued is called the “defendant."

Before you begin, you should collect the following information:

Proper name and address of each party

It is important that each plaintiff and defendant be accurately named and identified.

A plaintiff or defendant can be:

1. A person

Sample: Robert Jones - not "Bob" Jones

Use proper names; do not use nicknames

2. A person doing business under a trade name (d/b/a= "doing business as")

Sample: 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

Sample: Jones Electric Co., Inc. or Jones Electric Corp.

To find the exact 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 prevail in your case.) Remember, however, that you are suing the corporation not the officer(s), although the officers personally would be summoned to court if you prevail against the corporation and payment is not made.

4. A trust

Sample: Robert Jones, as Trustee of Acme Trust.

If the defendant is a trust, list the title of the trust and the name, address and telephone number of the principal trustee.

The papers, dates, and information you will need to accurately describe and 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 four digits of the account number if you have it.

If you are filing because of money owed to you in your trade or business

Be sure to see Special requirements if the claim arose from business before beginning

Where you will file

A small claim may be filed in one of three different court departments: District Court, Boston Municipal Court or Housing Court.

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

  • at least one plaintiff lives, works, or has a place of business or
  • at least one defendant lives, works, or has a place of business or
  • the rental property is located (if you are 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 are 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 will need to pay to 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

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 is, by providing questions which you can answer in plain language. It will not give you legal advice.

More information on the small claims process is available at Small Claims, where you can watch videos and read about the small claims process. The website has several useful resources, including information about the process, and what happens after you file. 

Once you have 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.

File your small claim online

 

To file in person, you need to pick up a multi-part form at the courthouse. The form online is only a sample.

The form you need to fill out for small claims is broken down into parts. These steps encompass what you need to successfully complete each part.

Completing the Statement of Claim and Notice of Trial form

Part 1

  1. Check the box titled "Boston Municipal Court", "District Court" or "Housing Court" and enter the court division in which you will file your claim.
  2. You may bring a small claim only in the court for the area where either the plaintiff or the defendant lives or has a place of business or employment.
  3. A small claim against a landlord arising from the rental of an apartment may also be brought where the apartment is located. You may find it easier to enforce a decision in your favor if you bring your small claim where the defendant lives or works, but you are not required to do so.
  4. The Clerk-Magistrate's office can tell you which court serves a location and the fee you must pay to file your case.

Part 2

  1. You, the person filing the claim, are the plaintiff. Enter all requested information.
  2. Be sure to include a daytime phone number in case the court needs to reach you.
  3. If you are represented by an attorney, please provide that information on the form and include the attorney's phone number.

Part 3

The defendant is the person or entity being sued. See What you need, above, for information on how to properly identify the defendant.

Part 4

  1. You must insert the amount that you claim that you are owed by the defendant. Court costs are the filing fee paid to this court. See Fees, above, for information on the fees.
  2. Unless your claim is based upon property damage sustained in an automobile accident, it cannot exceed $7,000. The claim may, however, be subject to statutory damages in excess of $7,000. (i.e., Consumer Protection cases or certain landlord/tenant cases).
  3. In those cases, the base amount may not exceed $7,000 even though the potential award may exceed that amount. You should be sure to include in this section that you are seeking double or treble damages and costs pursuant to the specific statute.

In as much detail as possible, describe what you are suing the defendant for. Use exact dates whenever possible. (Suggestion: Write your claim out on a piece of scrap paper before typing it on the claim.)

Part 5

Mediation is available in many courts on the date of trial. When the case is called and if mediation is available, you will be asked if you would like to mediate your claim.

  1. If you wish to attempt to settle your claim through mediation, check the box in this section.
  2. Remember, you do not lose your right to a trial if you submit to mediation and it is unsuccessful.

Part 6

If you are suing an individual, you are required to attest under the pains and penalties of perjury the defendant's military status.

  1. Once you have filed your claim you will be assigned a date of trial. Cases will be tried by the Clerk Magistrate and Assistant Clerk Magistrate of the Court.
  2. If you will be submitting documents or other exhibits at trial make sure that you have two extra sets, one for the Magistrate and one for the defendant.

Return the completed form, with all parts intact, together with a check or money order (made payable to "Clerk-Magistrate") for the filing fee. You may bring or mail the completed form and filing fee to the Clerk-Magistrate's office of the court where you are filing your case.

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