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Tenant's response to an eviction case

As a tenant, you have the right to respond to an eviction case made by your landlord. We have information on how you can respond.

Common defenses

Defenses are legal reasons the landlord should not win the eviction case.

Defective or no Notice to Quit

The landlord did not give you a Notice to Quit, or the Notice to Quit didn’t have all the required information.

Defective Summary Process Complaint

The Complaint contains missing or wrong information, or was not properly served.

Unlawful discrimination

The landlord has refused to rent, or attempted to end your tenancy, because you belong to a protected class.

Denied or Entitled to a Reasonable Accommodation

Tenants have the right to reasonable accommodations if they — or a member of their home — have a disability. 


Your landlord can’t retaliate against you because you exercise your legal rights. An example of a legal right is contacting Inspectional Services.

Tenancy reinstated

Either the tenant paid the amount due by the Answer date, or you and your landlord signed a new lease.

No significant lease violation

The violation was minor, or can be corrected through means other than an eviction.

Common counterclaims

In an eviction case, counterclaims are claims that the tenant has against the landlord.

Security Deposit Law Violation

The landlord did not properly take, account for, or return the security deposit.

Breach of Warranty of Habitability

A landlord did not give you safe and decent housing.

Breach of Quiet Enjoyment

The landlord unreasonably interfered with your use of the apartment.

Improper Rent or Adjustment

This is a counterclaim for tenants in subsidized or public housing. It happens when your rent is not accurately set or adjusted, or your landlord seeks money that you don’t owe.

Transferring the case to Housing Court

  1. Complete the Notice to Transfer Form.
  2. File the Notice to Transfer with the District Court, Housing Court, and your landlord.

You must file the Notice to Transfer Form by the day before the original court date.  There is no cost to transfer your case.

WHY TRANSFER to boston housing court?
  • Housing Court judges only hear housing cases.
  • Housing Court staff has greater expertise in housing matters.
  • Boston Housing Court offers mediation.
  • Legal help is available through the Lawyer for the Day Program.

Common reasons for Motion to Dismiss

A motion to dismiss asks the court to throw out the landlord's case. 

you did not receive a notice to quit

Your landlord must give you a Notice to Quit before filing a case in court.


You received the Summary Process Complaint before the time period stated in the Notice to Quit.

You cured a non-payment.

You have a written lease and paid all the rent you owed.

Notice and hearing rights denied.

In certain types of housing, tenants have additional rights to discuss the eviction with the landlord, or to have a grievance hearing. If you have one of these rights and it was not provided, you may be able to have the eviction case dismissed. Ask an attorney.

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