Heard: May 10, 2017.
Process. Complaint filed in the Boston Division of the
Housing Court Department on September 2, 2015.
case was heard by MaryLou Muirhead, J.
Denny (Patricia Whiting also present) for the defendant.
Cort, pro se.
Present: Milkey, Sullivan, & Henry, JJ.
defendant tenant, Alver Majors (tenant), appeals from a
Housing Court judgment, entered following a bench trial, that
awarded to the plaintiff landlord, Tchad Cort (landlord),
possession of an apartment in which the tenant resided. The
trial judge also awarded damages to the landlord for
nonpayment of rent, reduced by the amount of relief granted
to the tenant on his counterclaims for breach of the covenant
of quiet enjoyment and breach of G. L. c. 93A. The tenant
argues that the judge erred by ruling that the tenant waived
his right to a jury trial by failing to object to the
commencement of a bench trial. We conclude that the tenant
did not waive his right to a jury, and therefore vacate the
tenant lived for four years in the basement unit of the
landlord's building at 96 Mount Pleasant Avenue in the
Roxbury section of Boston, paying $600 per month in rent. In
April of 2015, the tenant ceased paying his rent.
September, 2015, the landlord filed a claim for possession in
the Housing Court due to the tenant's nonpayment of rent.
The tenant timely filed an answer and counterclaims alleging
violations of the implied warranty of habitability and G. L.
c. 93A, and breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. The
tenant's answer included a request for a jury trial in
the caption and in the body of the answer. The tenant's
jury claim was separately docketed.
tenant and the landlord both appeared pro se on the date
scheduled for trial. When the case was called, the judge
asked the tenant if he was prepared to move forward with the
trial and he responded affirmatively. The judge then asked
the clerk to swear in the witnesses and called the landlord
to the witness stand. After the landlord had finished her
testimony and while the tenant was midway through his own
testimony, the tenant stated, "I'd like a
jury." The judge replied that the trial had begun and
that the tenant had waived that right. The tenant responded,
"You didn't tell me that." After this exchange,
the judge asked, "What else would you like to tell me,
sir?" and the tenant continued with his testimony.
judge awarded possession to the landlord, as well as damages
for rent owed in the amount of $3, 600. The judge also
awarded $2, 400 in damages to the tenant for the conditions
in the apartment, which partially offset the amount owed to
the landlord, resulting in a net award to the landlord of $1,