What are Hawaii Tenant Rights?
This article—using information from the Hawaii Landlord-Tenant Code—should be used to understand your rights as a renter in the state of Hawaii. This article highlights crucial areas of HI tenant rights. If you have further questions concerning Hawaii Tenant Right Laws please call the state Office of Consumer Protection at 1-800-513-886 or 586-2634.
Hawaii Tenant Right Law: Rental Agreements
There are two formal forms of rental agreements in the state of Hawaii: written and oral. Both forms of rental agreements represent a binding contract between renter and landlord. This contract will elucidate the primary responsibilities of the renter and landlord. In essence, the rental agreement is the foundation of Hawaii tenant right laws.
Written Rental Agreements: A written rental agreement may be constructed for any period of time: month to month, six months, one year etc. All house rules, responsibilities, and promises must be written into the agreement. If provisions are not affirmed, the parties are not legally responsible for upholding them. If a landlord or renter wishes to amend the agreement, the new information—according to Hawaii Tenant Right laws—must be put into writing and signed by both parties.
Oral Rental Agreements: An oral agreement typically creates a month-to-month tenancy. Oral agreements for fixed terms may not exceed one year in time. Although an oral agreement is easier to reach, exact promises should never be neglected. Problems typically arise when promises are made but not clearly affirmed.
Regardless of the structure, according to Hawaii tenant right laws, rental agreements should stipulate the following provisions:
• The amount of rent and how, where and by when it should be delivered to the landlord. Also, the penalties for late rent should be affirmed in the agreement.
• HI tenant rights states that any exchange of services that affect the amount of rent should be outlined in the agreement. For example, if the renter pays to something repaired in the apartment, the agreement must dictate how the rent is to be reduced
• The term of the rental agreement. For instance, is it a weekly, monthly or yearly lease.
• If the landlord’s consent is needed for the tenant to sublet the rental space
• Hawaii tenant right laws state that any special provisions for individual tenants must be stipulated in the rental agreement.
What you Must Know About Hawaii Rental Agreements:
• According to HI tenant rights, if the tenant and landlord do not agree in writing to any of the above provisions, the tenancy will automatically become a month to month agreement. Rent, according to HI tenant right law, is typically paid on either a monthly or weekly basis. In most cases, rent is due each month. However, with a month to month agreement, rent can increase if the landlord provides written notice to the tenant at least 45 days before the effective date of the increase. For tenancies less than month-to-month a written notice must be provided at least 15 consecutive days prior to increasing the rent.
Important Features of Hawaii Tenant Rights:
HI tenant right law requires:
• Both tenants and landlords are required to act in good faith regarding the performance and enforcement of duties and rights of remedies
• Hawaii tenant rights state that identification of each person authorized to manage the rental space must be identified before the parties formulate an agreement
• Identification of each person or owner who is authorized to act as owner for services of purposes is required under Hawaii tenant rights
• Hawaii tenant right laws state that the tenant possesses the right to terminate rental agreements at any point if he or she cannot move into the unit as promised
• Both the landlord and tenant—according to Hawaii tenant rights—must comply with all applicable housing and building codes that affect safety and health
• If the rental unit is sold during the term of the lease, both the tenant and new owner—according to HI tenant rights law—are bound by the terms of the new agreement
HI Tenant Right Laws: Security Deposits
According to HI tenant right laws, a security deposit is funds given by the tenant to the landlord for the following reasons:
• To resolve tenant defaults for damages and for failure to pay rent or for failure to return keys when the rental agreement ends
• To clean the unit at the end of the tenancy; the security deposit—according to HI tenant rights—is used to repair and clean the unit if it was damaged beyond normal wear and tear
• To compensate for damages made by the tenant or to recoup missed rental payments if the tenant decides to abandon the rental property
Amount of the Security Deposit: Hawaii tenant rights states that the total amount of all security deposits may not exceed one month’s rent. This law includes the security deposit and any deposits made for pets, keys or anything else. Hawaii tenant rights declares that the tenant is not allowed to use the deposit as payment for the last month’s rent unless the landlord agrees with the tenant—in writing—to such use. If an agreement is made, the tenant must provide 45 days of notice of vacating the rental property. The landlord, in any event, retains the right to have the tenant pay for all damages beyond wear and tear that are caused by the tenant.
Retention of the Security Deposit: HI tenant right law states that if the landlord possesses lawful grounds to retain any portion or all of the security deposit, the landlord is required to notify the tenant in writing of the reasons for the retention. All costs, including specific repairs or cleaning, must be itemized in this document. Moreover, copies of receipts must be provided to the tenant according to Hawaii tenant right laws. If repairs cannot be accomplished within two weeks, estimates for repair and/or cleaning services may be substituted.
If a dispute arises regarding the retention of a security deposit, landlords and tenants may take bring their problem to the state’s small claims court. In this type of court action lawyers are not allowed to represent either party. Hawaii tenant rights state that where the court determines that the landlord:
• Wrongfully retained a portion or all of the security deposit, the court will award the tenant damages equal to a portion of the deposit plus the cost of the suit
• Willfully retained all or part of the deposit, it will award the tenant damages equal to three times the security deposit plus the cost of the suit
• Retained the security deposit in a lawful manner, the court—according to Hawaii tenant right laws—will award the landlord damages equal to the portion of the deposit in dispute plus the cost of the suit
Hawaii Tenant Rights: Repairs
Emergency Repairs: If repairs are deemed necessary to provide habitable living conditions, the landlord is required—according to HI tenant right laws—to take steps to fix the problem within three business days from the time the landlord is notified of the problem. Hawaii tenant laws declare that there is a good faith requirement that the repairs must be finished as quickly as possible. If the landlord is not able to commence repairs within three business days, the landlord must inform the tenant of the reasons for the wait and set a date on which repairs will begin.
If a safety or health condition exists in a rental unity which constitutes a violation of a county or state law, ordinance, code or regulation, the tenant must ask the landlord remedy the problem as quickly as possible. If the landlord does not fix the problem, the tenant should call the Department of health or County agencies to have condition inspected. If the landlord does not commence repairs—Hawaii tenant rights state that the tenant may:
• Engage in repairs; after providing receipts to the landlord, HI tenant right laws state that the tenant may deduct up to $500 from the next month’s rent
• The tenant may also give the landlord two estimates from qualified workers, at least five business days prior to the commencement of the repair work. Upon providing all receipts to the landlord, tenants—based on Hawaii tenant right laws may deduct $500 or one month’s rent, whichever is larger, to cover the cost of repairs.
Hawaii Tenant Rights: Landlord Obligations
Hawaii tenant rights require the fulfillment of certain responsibilities on the part of the landlord. HI tenant right laws provide that tenants may expect these actions from the landlord. As prescribed by HI tenant rights the landlord must partake in the following:
• The Landlord, according to Hawaii tenant rights, must have the unit ready for the tenant to move in at the time the lease agreement states
• The Landlord, according to Hawaii tenant rights must provide healthy and safe premises as required by state law
• The Landlord, according to Hawaii tenant rights, is required to maintain all plumbing, electrical and other facilities
• The Landlord, according to Hawaii tenant rights is required to provide for the supplying of running water as reasonably expected
• The Landlord, according to Hawaii tenant rights, is required to make all arrangements and repairs necessary to keep the rental unit in a livable condition
Frequently Asked Questions Associated with HI Tenant Right Laws:
Is my landlord required to pay me interest on my security deposit?
• According to Hawaii tenant right laws, the landlord is not required by law to pay interest on your security deposit
Are final inspections of the rental space required by Hawaii tenant rights laws?
• No, Hawaii tenant right laws do not require final inspections; however, they are always deemed a good way to prevent further conflict
What Can I Do to Insure Full Refund of My Security Deposit?
• To insure full refund of your security deposit you must do the following:
o Repair all damages that were caused by you during your tenancy. Damage beyond normal wear and tear includes things such putting holes in the wall or breaking appliances.
o Clean the unit thoroughly
o Return all keys on the termination date.
Can My Landlord Increase my rent by an amount equal to the landlord’s general excise tax responsibility?
• Yes, according to HI tenant law rights, the landlord must pay an excise tax of 4 percent for all rent received because it is considered gross revenue. That being said, the percentage increase in rent must be stated in your rental agreement. If a landlord wishes to increase your rent, he/she must provide adequate written notice to increase. There is no limit on the amount of the rent increase for there is no rent control in the state of Hawaii
Is there a grace period for paying rent?
• Hawaii tenant rights do not institute any grace periods for rental payments. That being said, the majority of landlords permit a certain number of days beyond the due date of the rent without penalty. If your landlord offers a grace period, it must be stated in your rental agreement. If it is not stated, rent is firmly due on the due date.
Important Deadline Information:
1. Return of Security Deposit:
• For a Month to Month. 14 days
• 14 days after lease expires
2. Notice of Rent Increase:
• Week to Week: 15 days notice*
• Month to Month: 45 days notice*
3. Notice of termination of rental:
• Week to Week: 10 days notice
• Month to Month: 45 days written notice from landlord to tenant*
The tenant, according to HI tenant right laws, may vacate the unit within the 120-day period, so long as the tenant notifies his/her landlord of the day of vacating. Under this circumstance, the tenant will be required to pay a prorated rent
5. General Repair Schedule:
• Week to Week: 12 business days
• Month to Month: 12 business days–landlord must start repairs within 12 days after being notified of the problem.
• Lease: 12 business days
6. Emergency Repairs
• Week to Week: 3 business days
• Month to Month: 3 business days–landlord must start repairs within 3 business days; if landlord fails to commence repair, the tenant may fix the problem him or herself and deduct costs from rent
• Lease: 3 business days
7. Notice of Intent to Enter:
• Week to Week 2 days
• Month to Month 2 days
• Lease 2 days
8. Improper Use:
• Week to Week: 10 days
• Month to Month: 10 days to remedy
• Lease: 10 days
9. Failure to pay rent:
• Week to Week: 5 days
• Month to Month: 5 business days after notice; landlord may start eviction process if rent is not paid
• Lease: 5 business days
10. Failure to disclose:
• Week to Week: 10 days
• Month to Month: 10 days if requested by tenant, landlord must disclose names of owners and agents
• Lease: 10 days