Heard: April 6, 2017.
Process. Complaint filed in the Boston Division of the
Housing Court Department on July 27, 2015. A motion to
intervene was heard by Jeffrey M. Winik, J.
application for leave to prosecute an interlocutory appeal
was allowed in the Appeals Court by Gregory I.
Massing, J. After review by the Appeals Court, the
Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain further
Emer (Alison T. Holdway also present) for the mother.
Therese Quijano for the plaintiff. Julia Devanthery, for Casa
Myrna & another, amici curiae, submitted a brief.
Dorothy Bourassa & Eileen M. Fava, for Women's Bar
Association, amicus curiae, submitted a brief.
Present: Gants, C.J., Lenk, Hines, Gaziano, Lowy, & Budd,
case we consider whether a mother has the right to
intervene in an eviction action brought by a landlord against
the mother's husband and their young children as the
named defendants where, although she is not a named tenant on
the lease, she has lived with her family in the apartment
throughout the tenancy and alleges domestic violence in the
home. We conclude that she may intervene both on her own
behalf and on behalf of her children.
case is before us on the mother's appeal from the denial,
by a judge of the Housing Court, of the her motion to
intervene in a summary process action brought by Beacon
Residential Management LP (Beacon), the agent of the
apartment owner, Georgetowne Homes Two, L.L.C. (Georgetowne
Homes) (collectively, landlord). We recite relevant
allegations from the mother's motion to intervene and
proposed answer, as supplemented by the testimony at the
hearing before the motion judge. 
October, 2009, the mother, together with her husband, R.P.,
and their son, moved into a federally regulated and
subsidized apartment in the Hyde Park section of Boston; the
apartment was owned by Georgetowne Homes. Initially both the
mother and R.P. signed the lease. Soon thereafter the
landlord informed them that the Federal government would not
subsidize the rent due to the mother's immigration
status; thereafter, the couple removed the mother from the
lease. At that time, February, 2010, R.P.
remained in the apartment and signed a new lease for
subsidized rent for himself and the son, and the mother and
son moved to R.P.'s parents' home. The two returned
to the apartment in June, 2010, but neither the mother nor
R.P. took steps to amend the lease to include the mother as a
June, 2012, the mother was approved as a permanent resident.
She returned to the landlord's office with her
immigration paperwork, including her green card, and asked
the landlord to add her name to the lease. The landlord's
policy was to give an "add-on" application to
anyone who requested one, and the landlord's agent
testified that had the mother completed an add-on
application, she would have been added to the lease as a
matter of course, as long as R.P. agreed. However, although
the mother asked to be added to the lease, she was not given
an add-on application. The mother testified that the
landlord's agent told her that only R.P. could add her
name to the lease. She further testified that R.P. refused to
do so as a way of controlling her.
1, 2015, the mother obtained an abuse prevention order
pursuant to G. L. c. 209A (209A order) against
R.P.. The order required him to stay away
from the apartment and from the mother's workplace; it
also ordered him not to contact the mother or their two
children and granted full custody of the
children to the mother. The order was subsequently extended
for a full year.
26, 2015, the landlord served a notice to quit on R.P. and
the two children. The notice stated that the mother was an
"unauthorized individual" living in the apartment,
and that she was "involved in a disturbance on the
property." In July, 2015, the landlord filed a
summary process action in the Boston Division of the Housing
Court Department based on the notice to quit. The mother
filed a motion to intervene and a proposed answer,
 arguing that the housing provisions
of the Violence Against Women Act, 42 U.S.C. § 14043e-ll
(2012 & Supp. II) (VAWA), and G. L. c. 239, § 2A,
prohibited the eviction because it was predicated on domestic
violence. See 42 U.S.C. § 14043e-ll (housing protections
for victims of domestic violence).
landlord opposed the mother's motion to intervene, and
the judge permitted both parties to introduce documents and
testimony in an evidentiary hearing, at which the mother and
the landlord's leasing agent testified. The judge issued
oral findings in which he did not credit most of the
mother's testimony and found that she and R.P. made a
joint decision not to add her to the lease, to enjoy the
benefit of lower rent. In addition, he found that the
landlord's failure to give the mother an add-on
application was due to negligence and not related to domestic
violence, so the mother had not been discriminated against as
an applicant under VAWA. As a result, the judge determined
that the mother did not have an interest that allowed her to
intervene as of right, but he allowed the mother to amend the
motion to seek intervention on behalf of her children. He
later denied the motion as amended, stating that the mother
could not represent the children because she had acted
fraudulently by living in the apartment without being named
as a tenant on the lease. Finally, because R.P. did not
appear, the judge entered a judgment of
default. The mother timely appealed to the
Appeals Court the denial ...