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Massachusetts Uniform Summary Process Rule 3: Answer

[Disclaimer]

The defendant shall prepare a written answer containing at the top of the page the caption "Summary Process Answer" with the trial date set forth below the caption. The answer shall deny every statement in the complaint which is in dispute. The defendant shall also state in the answer any affirmative defenses which may be asserted and may state any counterclaim permitted by Rule 5 of these rules. The answer shall be filed with the clerk and served on the plaintiff no later than the first Monday after the Monday entry day. The answer shall be filed by mailing first-class or by delivering a copy of it to the clerk. Service of the answer shall be made upon the plaintiff or plaintiff's attorney by first-class mail or delivery pursuant to the provisions of Mass. R. Civ. P. 5(b), except that service by mail is complete upon receipt. Filing by mail also is complete upon receipt. Forms of answer, as promulgated by the Chief Administrative Justice of the Trial Court, shall be made available in each clerk-magistrate's office.

As amended, effective February 1, 1982 and February 1, 1993.

COMMENTARY: Default for failure to answer properly is dealt with in Rule 10 of these rules.

By operation of Rule 1 of these rules, questions regarding service by "delivery" to the plaintiff, proof of service, the effect of failure to file, etc., are governed by the provisions of Mass. R. Civ. P. 5; however, service by mail is complete upon receipt rather than upon mailing.

The requirement that answers be filed and served no later than the first Monday after the Monday entry day establishes that day as the last day for filing and service of the answer.

An answer form, as promulgated by the Chief Administrative Justice of the Trial Court, may be obtained in the offices of the clerks of the Housing Court, District Court, Boston Municipal Court and Superior Court Departments.

The requirement of a caption and hearing date on the answer was inserted to assist the clerks in identifying summary process papers. Because of the commencement provisions in Rule 2, a clerk may choose not to assign docket numbers to answers until after the entry day. Except for the answer, however, all papers filed with the clerk must contain the docket number. See Rules 6 and 7; see also, Mass. R. Civ. P. 10(a).

Clerks should not refuse to accept answers filed before the entry date.