Hawaii Landlord Tenant Law

Looking for clear and concise information on Hawaii landlord tenant law? Get all your answers from this plain English guide to the Hawaii Landlord Tenant Code.

HI Landlord Tenant Law:

  • Hawaii Revised Statutes Division 3, Title 28, Chapter 521 - Residential Landlord Tenant Code

Tenant Application

The landlord can ask prospective tenants for application fees to cover the costs of background and credit checks. The fee amount should be reasonable - We recommend charging around $30 per applicant. If the landlord did not run any tenant screening checks, the fees should be refunded.

Background and Credit Check

You can screen tenant applicants with a background check or full credit report from RentPrep.

A background check will show a person's history of addresses, evictions, bankruptcies, judgments and liens.

A full credit report comes with a basic background check, credit check plus criminal check. A basic background check shows a person's history of addresses, evictions and bankruptcies.

Landlords do not need the tenant or applicant's consent to run background and credit checks.  Fair Credit Reporting Act § 604(a)(3)(F)

Avoiding Discrimination

The Fair Housing Act disallows landlords from discriminating against prospective renters based on their race, color, religion, sex, *familial status, national origin or physical/mental handicap.  42 U.S.C. § 3604

*Familial status - pregnant women and families with person(s) under 18.

In addition, Hawaii landlord tenant law disallows landlords from discriminating against someone as a renter because of age, ancestry, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status or whether the person has HIV.  HRS § 515-3

However if the dwelling has four or less rental units and the landlord lives in one of them, then he or she won't have to follow the above Fair Housing laws.  42 U.S.C. § 3603(b)

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Tenancy Agreement

(also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement)

Whether you're a landlord or tenant, it's important to have a written lease agreement with terms and conditions that favors you and follows your state laws.

To save time and avoid mistakes, you can customize your own lease agreement at LawDepot. This site will ask you a set of questions related to your tenancy and create a state-specific agreement based on your answers.

In the absence of a rental agreement, the tenancy shall be month to month by default. If the landlord is renting to boarders, the tenancy shall be week to week.  HRS § 521-22

Required for Tenancy Agreement

Hawaii landlord tenant law requires all tenancy agreements to contain the following details:

  • Name and address of person authorized to manage the property  HRS § 521-43.(a)(1)
  • Name and address of property owner or owner's agent (person authorized to act on behalf of owner)  HRS § 521-43.(a)(2), HRS § 521-43.(f)
  • Disclosure and information of lead-based paint in the property (for housing built before 1978)

If the tenant demands for the above information and the landlord fails to disclose them within 10 days, the landlord shall have to pay the tenant $100 plus attorney fees.  HRS § 521-67

If there is a written rental agreement, the landlord must give the tenant a copy of it.  HRS § 521-43.(d)

Recommended for Tenancy Agreement

  • Name and address of tenant(s)
  • Number of people (occupants) staying on the property
  • Type of tenancy: month to month tenancy or fixed term lease
  • How much is the rent
  • When, how and where the rent is to be paid
  • When is rent is considered late and the penalties for late rent payment
  • How much is the security deposit and pet deposit (if any)
  • Who holds the deposit(s) and where will it be held
  • What utilities and services are provided and who pays for them
  • What are the landlord's and tenant's duties for property maintenance
  • Can the tenant sublet the property or assign the lease
  • When to inform the landlord if tenant will be away for a long time
  • Prohibited activities and items

Disallowed for Tenancy Agreement

According to the HI landlord tenant law HRS § 521-31, your lease agreement CANNOT:

  • make the landlord or tenant give up any legal rights or remedies under the Hawaii Landlord Tenant Act
  • dismiss or limit the landlord or tenant's liability when they have failed in their duties
  • limit the amount the landlord or tenant can claim from each other
  • allow someone else to admit wrongdoings or accept liabilities on the tenant's behalf  HRS § 521-34
  • prohibit the losing party from paying the winning party's attorney fees in a dispute or claim  HRS § 521-35.(b)

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Security Deposit

According to Hawaii landlord tenant law, the landlord can ask for up to one month's rent as security deposit.

If the tenant keeps a pet (that is not a *service animal), the landlord can ask for an additional pet deposit. The maximum amount for this pet deposit is one month's rent and it can only be deducted for pet-related damages. *A service animal is an animal (usually a dog) that is trained to assist disabled people.

The security deposit cannot be used to pay the previous month's rent unless both parties have agreed on it in the rental agreement AND the tenant gives 45 days notice before vacating the rental unit.  HRS § 521-44.(b)

There are no Hawaii landlord tenant laws on security deposit holding methods and security deposit interest.

Deductions and Returns

Hawaii landlord tenant law requires the landlord to inform the tenant of the terms and conditions for security deposit deductions.

Valid reasons for security deposit deductions (under Hawaii landlord tenant law) include:

  • Rent owed
  • Property damage due to negligence, wrongful abandonment, misuse or abuse by tenant, occupants or tenant's guests or pets
  • Costs and losses incurred by landlord due to the tenant failing in his or her duties - See Tenant Responsibilities and Duties below  HRS § 521-51
  • Failure to return all keys after lease is terminated
  • Cleaning costs after the tenant moves out (if required)

The landlord is NOT allowed to take money from the security deposit due to damage from *normal wear and tear. *Normal wear and tear is the natural deterioration of the property (and its contents) from normal everyday use.

Once the lease properly terminates and the tenant returns the property, the landlord must send the tenant a list of security deposit deductions and refund any remaining deposit within 14 days. This list has to individually account for all damages and rent owed in writing. If the landlord fails to do so, he or she must return full security deposit to the tenant.  HRS § 521-44.(c)

If the landlord fails to follow Hawaii landlord tenant law for deducting and returning security deposit, the tenant can recover up to three times the amount of security deposit.  HRS § 521-44.(h), HRS § 521-66

If the tenant has wrongfully terminated the lease or abandoned the property, the landlord can keep the full security deposit amount.  HRS § 521-44.(d)

If Property is Sold

Once property ownership is transferred, the new owner will be responsible for refunding any security deposit or prepaid rent to the tenant (at the end of the tenancy). Therefore the new owner should make sure that the previous owner transfers all security deposits and prepaid rents along with the property.  HRS § 521-44.(f)

The previous owner is no longer responsible for the tenancy once ALL three conditions are met:

  1. The previous owner transfers all security deposits and prepaid rents to the new owner within 20 days (of giving the tenant a written notice)
  2. The previous owner informs the tenant in writing that the property is being sold
  3. The new owner and tenant enters into a new agreement on the property condition and contents

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Honolulu, Hawaii HI

Hawaii Landlord Tenant Law

Rent

As long as the landlord and tenant are agreeable, they can choose the time, place and method of rent payment.

If the landlord and tenant did not make such arrangements, rent is payable once the tenancy begins and shall be at the beginning of each rental period by default. Rent payments will be pro-rated day to day.  HRS § 521-21.(c)

Late Rent

There are no Hawaii landlord tenant statutes on imposing charges for late rent payments.

If the landlord wants to impose late rent charges, it has to be specified in the tenancy agreement. While there are no state laws on late fees, landlords cannot overcharge or impose unfair terms. Otherwise the tenant can refuse to pay and challenge the late fees in court.

Most states consider reasonable late fees to be around 3 to 5% of the rent amount. In addition, landlords should wait until rent payment is at least three days late before charging late fees.

Raising Rent

According to the Hawaii Landlord Tenant Act, the landlord can choose to raise the rent by any amount.

For a month to month tenancy, the landlord has to notify the tenant of a rent increase at least 45 days in advance.

If the rental term is less than a month (e.g. week to week tenancy), the landlord has to notify the tenant of a rent increase at least 15 days in advance.

The tenant can then choose to pay the higher rent or move out. If the tenant chooses to leave, he or she should give the landlord a 30 day notice to terminate tenancy in writing.  HRS § 521-21.(d)

For a fixed term tenancy, the landlord isn't allowed to raise the rent until the tenancy expires.

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Property Maintenance

Landlord Duties and Responsibilities

The Hawaii Landlord Tenant Act HRS § 521-42 requires the landlord to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition:

  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety
  • Common Areas: Keep all common areas clean and safe
  • Repairs: Make all repairs to keep the property safe and habitable
  • Maintenance: Maintain all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen facilities in safe working condition

If the rental property is a single family residence, the landlord shall be responsible for these additional items:

  • Waste Disposal: Provide outlets for waste disposal and arrange for waste removal
  • Heating: Supply running water, hot water and heating (as far as conditions allow)

Tenant Duties and Responsibilities

Hawaii landlord tenant law HRS § 521-51 also requires the tenant to keep the property in a clean and safe condition:

  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety. This includes following all reasonable landlord rules and restrictions in accordance to HRS § 521-52.(b)
  • Common Areas: Keep all common areas clean and safe
  • Waste Disposal: Dispose all waste from the property in a clean and safe manner
  • Cleanliness: Keep the property and plumbing fixtures clean and safe (as far as conditions will allow)
  • Proper Usage: Use all facilities and appliances properly. This includes all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen and common area facilities (e.g. elevators)
  • Property Damage: Avoid property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by the tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Maintenance: Maintain all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen facilities in safe working condition. This includes reporting problems and defects to the landlord so that the landlord can make repairs as soon as possible

If Landlord Fails to Maintain Property

After the tenant has sent the landlord a written notice for repairs, the landlord must begin repairs within 3 to 12 business days depending on the repair type:

  • Emergency repairs: 3 days (affects health and safety)
  • Non-compliance repairs: 5 days (violates country or state laws)
  • General repairs: 12 days  HRS § 521-64

If the landlord fails to begin repairs within the above deadlines, the tenant has two choices:

1. The tenant can make repairs and deduct the cost from rent

The tenant can make repairs himself or hire someone to do it. The tenant shall keep all repair receipts and deduct up to $500 from next month's rent as repair costs.

2. The tenant can terminate the tenancy

The tenant can terminate the tenancy by giving the landlord a written notice to quit at least 7 days in advance.  HRS § 521-63.(a)

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Property Access

When Tenant's Permission is Required

According to Hawaii landlord tenant law HRS § 521-53.(a), the landlord is only allowed to enter the property for the following reasons:

  • Performing property maintenance or repairs
  • Supplying essential (or mutually agreed) services and utilities
  • Inspecting property for damages
  • Showing property to prospective buyers, tenants or contractors

In the above situations, the landlord must inform the tenant at least 48 hours in advance before entering the property. The landlord can only enter the property with the tenant's consent and during reasonable hours.  HRS § 521-53.(b)

When Tenant's Permission is NOT Required

According to Hawaii landlord tenant law HRS § 521-53.(b),(c), the landlord may enter the property without permission in the following situations:

  • Emergencies such as smoke, fire, flooding or explosion
  • Tenant has informed landlord that he or she will be absent for an extended period of time
  • Tenant has abandoned the property

If Tenant Refuses Landlord's Valid Request to Enter Property

The tenant cannot deny access if the landlord has a valid reason to enter the property.  HRS § 521-73

Otherwise the landlord can EITHER

  1. obtain a court order that requires the tenant to let the landlord in OR
  2. terminate the lease agreement by giving the tenant a written notice at least 10 days in advance

In addition, the landlord may also sue the tenant for any damages incurred.

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Subletting

Hawaii landlord tenant law allows the tenant to sublet or assign the property without the landlord's consent UNLESS the rental agreement prohibits it.  HRS § 521-37.(a)

If the landlord wants the tenant to obtain his or her consent first, it has to be stated in rental agreement.  HRS § 521-37.(c)

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Honolulu, Hawaii HI

Honolulu, Hawaii HI

Termination of Tenancy

Hawaii landlord tenant law requires you to give the other party a written notice to quit before terminating a tenancy.

TENANT

Week to week tenancy

10 days

Month to month tenancy

28 days

LANDLORD

Week to week tenancy

10 days

Month to month tenancy

45 days

TENANT

If you are the tenant, the following are the minimum number of days for giving your landlord a notice to quit:

Landlord failed to maintain property

7 days

Tenant is a victim of domestic abuse

14 days

Property damage due to fire, disaster or unavoidable accident

Immediate

Terminating the Tenancy During the First Week

During the first week of tenancy, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement and vacate the property at any time if the landlord violates the rental agreement OR fails to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition.  HRS § 521-42

Tenant is a Victim of Domestic Abuse

If the tenant is a victim of domestic abuse AND the rental duration is one year or less, the tenant can terminate the tenancy early without penalties.  HRS § 521-82

To do so, the tenant has to submit the following documents to the landlord within 90 days of the abuse incident:

  • Notice to release tenant from the rental agreement within 14 days
  • Proof of domestic violence such as police report or protective order issued to tenant as a victim

Property Damage Due to Fire, Disaster or Unavoidable Accident

If the property is badly damaged by fire or natural disaster (such as earthquake or flood), the tenant can immediately move out and stop paying rent.  HRS § 521-65

The tenant must inform the landlord that he or she intends to terminate the tenancy within one week of moving out, and the tenancy will be terminated once the tenant moves out. If the tenant fails to inform the landlord, he or she shall have to pay rent until the landlord knows that the tenant is quitting OR until the property becomes inhabitable.

he or she pay shall have to pay until the landlord is aware of the tenant's intention to quit OR till the property becomes inhabitable.
   
After the tenant moves out, the landlord must return the security deposit (after any deductions) to the tenant. The tenant won't have to pay rent starting from the date of the fire or natural disaster, so the landlord must also return any prepaid rent to the tenant.
   
If only part of the property is damaged, the tenant should move out of the damaged area. The rent amount will be lowered based on how much of the property is still livable.

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Eviction

According to Hawaii landlord tenant law, the following are valid reasons for evicting tenants and the minimum number of days for giving them a notice to quit:

Tenant did not pay rent

5 days

Tenant violated tenancy agreement or didn't perform duties

10 days

Conversion of rental unit to condominium

120 days

Whether you are a landlord evicting someone or a tenant facing eviction, it's important that you handle matters correctly according to your state laws.

If you have any questions or doubts on eviction, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

Tenant Did Not Pay Rent

If the tenant did not pay rent on time, the landlord can send the tenant a five day written notice to terminate the tenancy. This notice must state the amount of rent owed and inform the tenant that he or she can choose to pay or move out.  HRS § 521-68

If the rent is paid within five days, the tenant may stay.

Tenant Violated Tenancy Agreement or Didn't Perform Duties

If the tenant violates the tenancy agreement, the landlord can send the tenant a ten day written notice to terminate the tenancy.  HRS § 521-69, HRS § 521-72

Similarly if the tenant fails to perform his or her duties (as required by Hawaii landlord tenant law) in a significant manner, the landlord can also send the tenant a ten day written notice to terminate the tenancy.

This written notice has to state what is the tenant's violation or failure in duty. If the tenant corrects the problem within 10 days, the tenant may stay.

The landlord does not have to give the tenant a chance to correct the violation if it causes of threatens to cause irremediable damage to any person or property.

Unlawful Eviction

According to Hawaii landlord tenant law, the landlord CANNOT force the tenant to move out by shutting off utilities (electricity, water, gas, sanitation), changing the locks, taking the tenant's belongings or taking possession of the property by force without a court hearing.  HRS § 521-74.5

If the landlord forces the tenant to move out (with the unlawful methods above) or shuts off utilities, the tenant can sue the landlord for up to three month's rent or $1000 (whichever is greater).

If the landlord keeps the tenant off the property overnight without a valid reason or court order, the tenant can EITHER

  1. regain possession of the property OR
  2. terminate the tenancy agreement

In addition, the tenant may also sue the landlord for two month's rent (or two months of free stay) PLUS court costs and attorney's fees.  HRS § 521-63.(c)

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Abandonment

According to Hawaii landlord tenant law, the tenant has abandoned the property when ALL three conditions are met:

  1. Tenant is late in paying rent
  2. Tenant did not inform the landlord in writing that he or she will be away
  3. Tenant has been away from the property for 20 or more days

If the tenant abandoned the property, the landlord may retain the full security deposit amount.  HRS § 521-44.(d)

Once the property is abandoned, the landlord may enter it, clean it, and re-rent it.

As long as the landlord makes a proper effort to re-rent the property at a fair rate, the abandoning tenant will be responsible for paying rent until the tenancy ends. If a new tenant is moving in before the tenancy ends, then the abandoning tenant can stop paying rent once the new tenant moves in.  HRS § 521-70.(d)

Dealing with Abandoned Belongings

If the tenant abandoned the property and left his or her personal belongings behind, the landlord has three choices:

1. The landlord can sell the belongings

The landlord has to inform the tenant in writing that he or she is intending to sell the tenant's belongings. Following that, the landlord has to advertise the sale in the daily papers for three consecutive days. The landlord can proceed to sell the belongings 15 days after informing the tenant.

The landlord may use revenue from the sale to pay for the following:

  • Cost of moving and storing the abandoned belongings
  • Cost of advertising and holding the sale
  • Any remaining rent owed or damages that the tenant is responsible for (after deducting from the security deposit first)

Any leftover revenue should be paid to the tenant. If the tenant does not collect the leftover revenue within 30 days, the landlord shall keep it.

2. The landlord can donate the belongings to a charity

The landlord has to inform the tenant in writing that he or she is intending to donate the tenant's belongings. The landlord can proceed to donate the belongings 15 days after informing the tenant.

3. The landlord can dispose the belongings

Hawaii landlord tenant law allows the landlord to dispose abandoned belongings that he or she deems to have no value. The landlord can also dispose any unsold belongings that are left over from the sale.  HRS § 521-56

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Resources

Hawaii Landlord Tenant Law: Hawaii Residential Landlord Tenant Code

Hawaii Landlord Tenant Handbook: Handbook for the Hawaii Residential Landlord-Tenant Code

If you have any questions or need legal advice, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

Like and Share ☺