Trial Court Rules
Uniform Summary Process Rules

Trial Court Rules  Uniform Summary Process Rule 12: Appeals

Effective Date: 03/01/2004
Updates: Amended effective February 1, 1982 Amended effective March 1, 2004

Note: Any provisions that are inconsistent with Housing Court, District Court, or Boston Municipal Court standing orders are suspended by Trial Court Administrative Order 21-2: Trial Court Order Suspending Certain Provisions of Trial Court Rule I: Uniform Summary Process Rules, effective June 15, 2021.

Table of Contents

Rule 12

Any judgment in a summary process action, except a default judgment, may be appealed by an aggrieved party in accordance with the provisions of law.

Upon receipt of notice of appeal and request for setting of bond within the time prescribed by G.L. c. 239, § 5, the clerk shall forthwith schedule a hearing before the court on whether an appeal bond shall be required and on the form and amount of such appeal bond. The hearing shall be held within three business days of said receipt.


The subject of appeals in summary process actions is directly governed by G.L. c. 239, § § 3 and 5. Section 3 requires that appeals from cases heard in the District Court Department be taken to the Superior Court Department and that appeal may be on either or both of the issues of possession or rent claimed. Section 5 sets forth the procedural mechanism for claiming and prosecuting appeals. No direct reference is made in either statute to a right on the part of a plaintiff to claim an appeal in a summary process action. However, the general terms of G.L. c. 231, § 97 do confer upon plaintiffs in the District Court Department the right to appeal summary process actions to the Superior Court and, more specifically, to "take" such appeals "within the time limits specified" in G.L. c. 239, § 5.

Read together, the provisions of G.L. c. 231, § 97 and  G.L. c. 239, § 5 seem to require that just as a defendant, a plaintiff in the District Court or Boston Municipal Court Departments aggrieved by a judgment on the issue of possession or rent, or both, must file a notice of appeal with the court issuing the judgment within ten days of the judgment being entered.

Detailed provisions regarding the appeal in summary process cases including bond requirements for an appealing defendant and appeal of the bond decision, are set forth in  G.L. c. 239, § 5. This statute should be consulted directly on questions relating to these procedures.

Relief from a default judgment is subject to the provisions of Rules 11 and 12.

It should be noted that the indigent court costs statute, G.L. c. 261, § 27A et seq. places appeals bonds into the "extra fees and costs" category. The court can waive the appeals bond upon a determination of indigency pursuant to these sections of the General Laws or for such other reasons as the court deems proper.


Updates: Amended effective February 1, 1982 Amended effective March 1, 2004

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