Washington State is 1st state to enact right to counsel for tenants

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10/09/2021, Legislation, Housing - Evictions

UPDATE: statewide right to counsel goes live!

 

The Seattle Times and KGW News recently reported on the rollout of the Washington State eviction right to counsel program.

 

UPDATE: statewide implementation plan released

 

Washington State’s Office of Civil Legal Aid has publicly released the implementation plan for the newly-enacted statewide right to counsel for tenants facing eviction.

 

Background

 

In April 2021, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed SB 5160, which makes the state the first to guarantee counsel for indigent tenants in eviction cases.  It specifies that "Subject to the availability of amounts appropriated for this specific purpose, the court must appoint an attorney for an indigent tenant in an unlawful detainer proceeding under this chapter and chapters 59.12 and 59.20 RCW."   The bill has a flexible definition of "indigent" and routes the funds through the Office of Civil Legal Aid.


The passage of the bill was covered by the Seattle Times, Oregon Public BroadcastingThe OlympianBusiness Insider, and ABA Journal

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

 

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The NCCRC provided support and input on the bill.