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Summary Process Appeals: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) by Landlords

For clarity, these frequently asked questions and answers refer to the parties as landlords and tenants; however, the information herein also applies to purchasers, foreclosing institutions, and holdover owners.

Table of Contents

Landlords' Summary Process FAQs

Q.  I lost my eviction trial, what do I do now?

You can ask the Appeals Court to review the decision in your case if you believe that the Housing Court judge or jury made an error, by filing a notice of appeal in the Housing Court within 10 days of entry of the judgment.  At the same time, you should begin the process of obtaining transcripts of your trial, which may be needed for your appeal.

Q.  The Housing Court judge ordered summary judgment for my tenant, what do I do now?

You can ask the Appeals Court to review the decision in your case if you believe that the Housing Court judge made an error in ordering summary judgment, by filing a notice of appeal in the Housing Court within 10 days of entry of the summary judgment.  At the same time, you should begin the process of obtaining transcripts of your summary judgment hearing, which may be needed for your appeal.

Q.  The Housing Court has entered a judgment for the tenant.  If I file a motion for reconsideration of the judgment or a motion for a new trial, how does that affect my right to appeal?

If you file a motion for reconsideration or a motion for new trial within 10 days of entry of the judgment, the time for filing a notice of appeal is extended to 10 days after entry of the order denying your motion for reconsideration or for a new trial.  If you file a notice of appeal before your motion is denied, you must file another notice of appeal after your motion is denied.

Q.  What is the process for ordering transcripts of my trial?

The process for ordering transcripts is set forth in Rule 8 of the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure and Trial Court Administrative Order 19-1.  If you are indigent, you may ask to waive the court fee for accessing the audio recording of the proceedings and for the state to pay the cost of turning the audio recording into a written transcript. For specific information about the transcript process or about waiving the costs in your case, please contact the Housing Court where your case was heard.

Q.  I received notice from the Housing Court that my appeal has been assembled, what do I do now?

Within 14 days of receiving the notice of assembly of the record, you must enter your appeal on the Appeals Court docket.  You do this by paying the $300 filing fee or by filing a motion to waive that fee if you are indigent.  You must file in the Appeals Court a motion to waive the filing fee and an affidavit of indigency, even if you have already filed one in the Housing Court and been deemed indigent in that court.

Q.  I have entered my appeal on the Appeals Court docket.  What do I do next?

You must file a civil docketing statement within 14 days of entering your appeal on the Appeals Court docket.  The civil docketing statement is a form where you provide basic information about your appeal.  The form and instructions are available online here.

Q.  I have filed my docketing statement.  What do I do next?

You have 40 days from the date that you entered your appeal to file your brief and record appendix.  Additional information about what to include in your brief and appendix, and proper formatting, is available online here.

Q.  I need additional time to prepare my brief and record appendix.  What should I do?

You may file a written motion seeking additional time to file your brief and record appendix.  Your motion should include the specific date you propose to submit your brief and appendix, along with an explanation of why you need additional time.

Q.  I have filed my brief and record appendix.  What happens now?

The tenant has 30 days from the time you file your brief and record appendix in which to file their own brief.  After the tenant's brief is filed, the case is placed in ready status, which means that it will be assigned to a panel of three justices who will decide your appeal. 

Q.  I have read the tenant’s brief and want to reply to something that the tenant wrote.  How do I do this?

You are allowed to file a reply brief, which is formatted similarly to your primary brief.   However, the reply brief must be shorter and may only respond to the tenant's brief.  You may not submit any additional record appendix materials without permission from the court.  Additional information about writing and filing your reply brief can be found here.  You are not required to file a reply brief.  No other briefs are allowed.

Q.  I have received notice seeking my unavailability for oral argument on certain dates.  What happens now?

This means that your case will likely be scheduled for oral argument.  Please follow the instructions in the notice for responding to the court.  The court will attempt to schedule your case for oral argument based on your available dates and the tenant's available dates.  If the court is unable to schedule your oral argument on any of the dates for that month, you may receive a second notice of unavailability for dates in the following month.

Q.  I have been given a date for oral argument.  What should I expect at oral argument?

Oral argument will likely take place on the third floor of the John Adams Courthouse in Boston, in one of the Appeals Court's two courtrooms.  The Appeals Court sometimes hears cases in other locations, however, so be sure to check your notice to confirm the location.  When you arrive, you must check in with the court officer, who will give you a form to complete.  When your case is called, you will be directed to the appellant's table.  You will go first in presenting your case.  You should stand at the podium and speak clearly into the microphone.  Additional information regarding oral argument is available here.

Q.  I have received a notice that my case is under consideration by a panel.  What does that mean?

A notice that your case is under consideration by a panel means that your case is likely to be decided without oral argument.  No party has a right to an oral argument.  The three names in parenthesis on the notice are the three justices who will decide your appeal.  After reviewing the file, they will begin to work on a decision on your appeal.

Q.  The panel of justices has issued a decision in the tenant's favor.  What happens now?

The decision of the Appeals Court is sent to the parties immediately, but it is not sent to the Housing Court for 28 days.  The judgment or order of the Appeals Court is not considered final until the decision is sent to the Housing Court.  You may file a motion for reconsideration or modification of the panel's decision within 14 days of receiving it.  Additional information about a motion for reconsideration or modification can be found here.  Within 21 days of the decision, you may also ask the Supreme Judicial Court to review the Appeals Court's decision, by filing a document called an application for further appellate review within 21 days of the Appeals Court's decision.  Additional information about filing an application for further appellate review can be found here.  If your motion for reconsideration and/or application for further appellate review are denied, the Appeals Court will send the decision to the Housing Court and the decision will become final.

Q.  I entered into an agreement for judgment, the tenant violated the agreement, and the Housing Court judge denied my motion to issue an execution on the judgment (eviction order).  How do I challenge that order?

You may file a notice of appeal in the Housing Court from the order denying your motion to issue the execution within 30 days from the date the order entered on the Housing Court docket.  If a final judgment has not entered on the Housing Court docket, you may file a petition seeking review by a single justice of the Appeals Court of the Housing Court judge's order denying your motion for an execution.  The petition must be filed within 30 days of the date the order denying your motion enters on the Housing Courts docket.  Additional information, including the requirements for a petition to the single justice, can be found here.

Last updated: October 16, 2020
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