We Have a Serious Problem in MA – It Takes 5 Months to Reach a Judge in Housing Court

To the Chief Justice of Housing Court, the Chief Justice of the Trial Court, Gov. Council, the MA Legislature and the MA Governor.

I am writing to you because we have a serious problem in MA – it takes 5 months to reach a judge in Housing Court and 7 months to reach a judge in Small Claims Court. I assume it is as bad in the other courts too.

I am a landlord who owns 45 apartments in MA, I have been at it for the past 24 years and I am the founder of one the most popular landlord-tenant sites in MA – MassachusettsLandlords.com.

Before Covid we had to wait for 3 weeks to see a judge after the Notice to Quit expired and if you ask me that was 2 weeks too long because as everybody knows, in evictions, time is of the essence because monetary judgments in MA are about 90-95% useless because so many people for one reason or another are judgment-proof. We can’t collect from ex-tenants. Our only hope to stop the hemorrhaging is a quick eviction and hopefully we can quickly find another tenant. Also keep in mind that many evictions are For Cause which means the tenant needs to be removed for usually something obnoxious that they are doing which disturbs the other tenants or destroys the property of the housing provider.

Having to wait 5 months to see a judge is NOT a real option. It endangers the landlords and the other tenants but even if it didn’t, still, having such a slow judicial system is something that we should not be proud of and it should be fixed pronto.

Either there aren’t enough mediators, magistrates, clerks and judges or the processing of these claims needs to be improved so it’s faster or both. Why can’t you hire more judges, etc? Do you not have enough money in MA? How can you improve the processing of these claims?

I am not asking that we make the judicial system so “efficient” that it sacrifices Justice but having to wait 5 months for Housing Court and 7 months for Small Claims, c’mon!

When there is a line at the store the cashier calls other cashiers for help. There is a permanent and very long line in front of Housing and other courts. It takes 5 months to reach the cashier. You need to hire more cashiers or find other ways to service the line! There isn’t another store we can go to. It’s the only store in town. We have no other option (assuming we don’t turn to self-help out of desperation) but to use the services of the Housing Court.

We need our courts to work Ok. Right now they are NOT working ok.

There is a 5-block line in front of your store. This is a legitimate question – why not get more cashiers to handle the line? 

Please respond to me with what your plan is so I can post it online. I am not interested to know how Covid got us where we are.  I am interested to know what is being done to fix this situation and when it will be fixed.

And by the way, when you pick housing court judges stop just picking them from the pro bono mass legal services lawyers pool but also make sure they have represented landlords at least 50% of the time. Otherwise you are installing ideologues, not fair arbiters.