G.L. c 239 § 8A

Where a landlord brings forth an eviction action against the tenant (summary process action) G.L. c. 239 § 8A provides the tenant with a defense in both non-payment and No-fault evictions. Under the statute, tenants shall be entitled to raise defenses and counterclaims which can offset any rent owed. If The tenant is not in arrears on rent, and there are counter claims for which the tenant may recover money damages, since there is no rent owed by the tenant, the tenant retains possession outright, and the landlord must pay the tenant damages on the counterclaim.

If You Are Being Evicted for Non-Payment of Rent
Counterclaims may reduce or eliminate the amount of rent you owe. If you are being evicted for non-payment of rent, the judge will compare the amount he/she awards you on your counterclaims to the amount she/he awards your landlord for rent. If you are awarded more money than your landlord, you win the eviction case and get to stay in your apartment.
If the amount you win on your counterclaim is less than what the judge says you owe the landlord, you have 7 days after receiving notice from the court to pay the difference to the court and prevent the eviction. If the judge rules against you on all of your counterclaims and does not find that any of your defenses are valid, you have lost the eviction case.

If your defense is based on bad conditions, a judge must be convinced of the following things:

  • Bad conditions existed;
  • Your landlord knew about the bad conditions before you were behind in your rent;
  • Neither you nor anyone else under your control caused the bad conditions;
  • You do not live in a hotel or a motel or hotel or you have lived in a rooming house for more than 3 months; and
  • The conditions can be repaired without your moving out.

If you believe your landlord has violated your rights, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney who knows the law and will fight for your rights. It is not uncommon for the court to order that the landlord is responsible for the tenant’s attorney’s fees in the appropriate circumstances. Therefore, you may not have to pay your attorney anything to take on your case. We have had much success in this area of our practice. Call our office at 508.407.8338 to set up a free consultation. We can also be reached at info@jdmolleurlaw.com. Alternatively, we can be reached at the afterhours line 24/7 at (508)-579-8333.

This information does not constitute legal advice and is written for general information purposes only. Individuals should consult with a lawyer for specific legal advice.

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