Free lawyers for renters in Washington State

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Renters who have a low income in Washington State may be appointed a free lawyer before a court can proceed with an eviction lawsuit. Read this to find out who is eligible, and how to find a free lawyer. #6347EN

Tenants in Washington State: Read this!

Under Washington State law at RCW 59.18.640, tenants who have a low income may be appointed a free lawyer before a court evicts you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The law says that "indigent" tenants must be given a free lawyer in an eviction court case. "Indigent" means either:


  • the tenant receives public assistance, for example:

    • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

    • Aged, Blind, or Disabled assistance benefits (ABD)

    • Food stamps (for example, an EBT card)

    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

    • Poverty-related Veterans' benefits

    • Refugee Resettlement benefits

    • Medicaid (Apple Health)

    • Pregnant individual assistance benefits

Courts will only appoint a lawyer after the tenant receives court documents starting an eviction lawsuit, called a "Summons" and a "Complaint."  

The Complaint and Summons may have already been filed with the court (and have a case number), or they may have been given to the tenant without being filed. Either way, the court must appoint a free lawyer for tenants who are "indigent."

No. Renters who receive an Eviction Summons and Complaint should call our Eviction Defense Screening line at 1-855-657-8387 or apply online at to find out if they qualify for a free lawyer in an eviction case.

If your eviction hearing date and time arrive and you have not yet been given a free lawyer, you should go to the hearing and ask the judge for more time to get a free lawyer. The judge may then postpone the hearing to give you time to call our Eviction Defense Screening line at 1-855-657-8387 or Apply Online.

Maybe! Before you receive an Eviction Complaint and Summons, your landlord should have given you an eviction notice. For example, you may receive a "14 Day Notice to Pay or Vacate", a "10 Day Notice to Comply or Vacate." Because you haven't yet received an Eviction Summons and Complaint, the court will not appoint a free lawyer yet.

But you can try to get free legal help in responding to the termination notice. See Get Legal Help below.

Get Legal Help

  • Apply Online

  • Call the Eviction Defense Screening Line at 1-855-657-8387  

Deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired callers can call this number using the relay service of your choice.

Interpreters provided.

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Last Review and Update: Sep 19, 2023
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