New Housing Court Rules to Take Effect June 2023

New Housing Court rules will take effect in June 2023, changing how this trial court operates. Since the pandemic, Housing Court has significantly changed its court procedures and operations. Many of these changes, in my opinion, have been long overdue.

In-Person Hearings

Housing Court appears to be returning to mostly in-person hearings, which was the pre-pandemic norm. Besides Land Court (which allowed telephone conferences for various hearings), nearly every state court required in-person hearings for every court matter before the pandemic. During the pandemic and after, remote hearings became routine.

I found remote hearings to be very effective in getting things done, and prevented attorneys and parties from traveling to court for hearings that sometimes lasted no more than ten minutes. These Housing Court rules, in my opinion, should require remote hearings for routine matters that come before the court, such as mediation and basic motions.

Formal Service of Court Hearing Notices

The new Housing Court rules now require landlords to serve tenants with notice of first-tier court events through a sheriff and constable. Before, this was only required for the service of a notice to quit and court summons.

This change, in my opinion, is highly unnecessary. Courts routinely mail hearing notices to attorneys and self-represented parties, and there is little reason for now requiring landlords to spend $60-$70 for formal service of these notices.

New Eviction Forms

I’ll write more about this later, but state law now requires a new form for non-payment of rent cases. Compared to previous forms, these forms are much more simplistic and do not need to be uploaded to a state website (a process I hated with a passion!).

This new form is a welcome change and strikes a good balance between giving tenants notice of important resources without bothering landlords with burdensome paperwork.

Final Thoughts

Despite my mixed feelings about these Housing Court rules, I’m optimistic about future practice in the court. 2023 will be my tenth year practicing in the Housing Court, and I am incredibly proud to be a member of the landlord-tenant bar.

If you need assistance with a landlord-tenant matter, contact me for a consultation.