SECTION 1. Chapter 239 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding, after section 14, the following new section:-
Section 15. Two-tier process; pending rental assistance
(a) All summary process cases shall be handled in a two-tier process. (i) First tier. This event will be for the parties to determine the status of the case, explore the availability of resources, attempt mediation or other opportunity to reach a resolution to the case, and identify next steps in preparing the case for trial. No default or dismissal may enter if a party does not appear at the first tier event. (ii) Second tier. For cases which are not resolved, the Clerk’s Office shall send a written notice to the parties of the trial date.
(b) In a summary process action for nonpayment of rent, (i) a court having jurisdiction over summary process actions shall grant a continuance if there is a pending application for rental assistance; (ii) no judgment may enter, nor may any execution issue, in a summary process action for nonpayment of rent if there is a pending application for rental assistance; (iii) the court shall not issue a stay of execution on a judgment for possession if there is a pending application for rental assistance.
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