When the car she relied upon for work broke down, Sarah’s choice seemed straightforward: fix the car and keep her job. But getting the car fixed meant using the money she had set aside for rent. Sarah soon fell behind on her monthly payments. Shortly after, her public housing landlord served her with an eviction complaint. Sarah’s stress level escalated and she missed her court date due to medical issues. At the time of the default, Sarah owed her landlord $680 in rent and court costs. Following the default, she paid her landlord the full judgment amount and all additional new rent.
Despite these payments, Sarah’s landlord served her with a levy notice to get her and her 11 year-old daughter out of their apartment. The landlord arranged for a constable to go to the apartment while Sarah was at work, had the locks changed, and then refused to let Sarah or her daughter inside, not even to retrieve their belongings. Left without a home, Sarah and her daughter alternated between sleeping in their car and at a friend’s house for eight days.
It was then that Sarah came to MetroWest Legal Services. A MWLS housing attorney immediately filed a motion to recall the levy and helped Sarah get access to her apartment due to a technicality: the Landlord had moved Sarah out of her apartment one day earlier than the date on the notice. The attorney also filed a motion to recall the execution and reinstate Sarah’s tenancy since she had paid back both the judgment and the rent in full. The court agreed and Sarah and her daughter moved back into their apartment. The judge chastised the landlord for his conduct and denied his request for payment of filing fees and court costs.