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Respond to a city or town ordinance or bylaw violation ticket

Did you receive a ticket for a city or town ordinance or bylaw violation? Find out how to respond to it.
You must pay the ticket or request a hearing within 21 days.

District, Housing, and Boston Municipal Courts

The Details of Respond to a city or town ordinance or bylaw violation ticket

What you need for Respond to a city or town ordinance or bylaw violation ticket

If you receive a city or town ordinance or bylaw violation ticket, you have 21 days to pay it. Otherwise, you need to request a hearing within 21 days. Fines can be up to $300, and vary depending on the ordinance or bylaw.

The procedure for paying a fine varies depending on whether or not the town who issued the ticket has adopted G.L. c.40U, which allows cities and towns more control over enforcing penalties, particularly for violations of ordinances or bylaws about sanitation, housing, and snow and ice removal.

How to respond Respond to a city or town ordinance or bylaw violation ticket

For tickets from cities or towns that haven't adopted G.L. c.40U, you must return the ticket with payment to the city or town clerk, or to the clerk-magistrate of the District Court or Boston Municipal Court with your request for a civil hearing. The hearing may be held by a clerk or judge.

For tickets from cities or towns that have adopted G.L. c.40U, you may either pay the ticket to the city or town clerk or request review a hearing by the municipal hearing officer.  If you have a hearing before the municipal officer and are unhappy with the result, you may appeal within 10 days for review by a clerk-magistrate of the District Court or Boston Municipal Court.

For tickets from cities or towns that have adopted G.L. c.40U, you also have the option of requesting review of the ticket by mail.

More info about Respond to a city or town ordinance or bylaw violation ticket

If you don't pay the fine, there are 2 different procedures, depending on whether the city or town that issued the ticket has adopted G.L. c.40U or not.

  • Cities and towns that haven't adopted G.L. c.40U — The city or town may file an application for criminal complaint, which is then scheduled for a court hearing.
  • Cities and towns that have adopted G.L. c.40U — The citation may be prosecuted criminally.  For municipal violations of housing, sanitary, or snow and ice requirements, the city or town may notify the property owner and manager by mail. After 30 days, the unpaid fine becomes a lien on the property. 

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