Real Estate & Property Law

Washington is first state to give right-to-counsel protections to these litigants

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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill Thursday that gives low-income tenants a right to a lawyer in eviction proceedings.

Washington is the first state to give indigent tenants a right to counsel, the Seattle Times reports. Several cities have passed similar laws, and seven other states are also considering doing so.

The state’s Office of Civil Legal Aid estimates that it will have to hire 58 new lawyers, as well as contract lawyers, after the state lifts its eviction moratorium, which is now scheduled to end June 30, according to the Seattle Times. The projected cost is $11.4 million in the first year.

The state’s Office of Civil Legal Aid is already seeking to hire a new manager for the program, which must be implemented within a year.

The law gives a right to counsel to tenants who receive public assistance or who have incomes no higher than 200% of the federal poverty level. That amounts to $25,760 per year for individuals and $53,000 per year for a household of four.

The bill also bars landlords from charging late fees for six months after the eviction moratorium ends, Spokane Public Radio reports.

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