Bar Bulletin

Bar Bulletin

Right to Counsel in Unlawful Detainer Actions

September 2021 Bar Bulletin

This past legislative session, Senate Bill 5160 was passed and signed into law by the Governor. This was historic as it created the nation’s first right-to-counsel program for low-income tenants in Washington. 

Other large cities: Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, and Cleveland have enacted similar laws in recent years. However, Washington is the first state to require courts to appoint an attorney for all low-income tenants (defined as those earning less than 200% of the federal poverty level) threatened with eviction. 

As State Senator Patty Kuderer (Bellevue), told the Olympian, “It’s an acknowledgment that housing is an essential need and that it’s different from other things...

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