Criminal proceedings in the Housing Court

Housing Courts hear criminal cases to enforce local ordinances or state sanitary, building, and fire prevention codes which regulate residential housing.

Probable cause hearing

If you receive a notice in the mail of a probable cause hearing from the Housing Court, it means that a city or town inspector believes that your property is in violation of the housing codes. You should immediately contact the inspector about any questions you may have.  

Court staff can’t discuss the code violations with you before the hearing. Court staff have no personal knowledge of your property or the alleged violations in your case — only the city or town, through its inspector, is familiar with the violations.

If you can’t come to court on the day of your probable cause hearing, you should ask the city or town to agree to “continue” (postpone) the case to a new date as soon as possible, and file your agreement with the court.  If they won’t agree, you should file a written request for a postponement and have it heard by the clerk magistrate before the original probable cause hearing date. Otherwise, you’ll be defaulted and criminal process may issue.

Paying a fine

If you're found guilty of the violations and have been ordered to pay a fine, you should pay the fine at the clerk's office where your case is pending.

What to do if you're in default

If you don’t attend court on your hearing date after criminal process was issued against you, the court may issue a warrant for your arrest. You should immediately go to the clerk’s office and ask that your default is removed and the warrant is cancelled and recalled. If you don’t do this, you can be arrested and held in custody on the warrant. There is a $50 fee to recall the warrant, plus an additional $75 if you’re arrested by the police. You should be prepared to pay this fee when you come to the clerk’s office.

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