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Glossary of Landlord-Tenant Terms
In Hawaii, a landlord cannot sell, give away, or throw out a tenant’s abandoned property without providing a tenant a notice and then wait for fifteen days. (See: Hawaii Revised Statutes § 521-56.)
Hawaii forbids landlords from taking the law into their own hands. Examples of illegal constructive or “self-help” evictions include changing the locks, removing the front door, or turning off the heat or electricity—all of which may be the basis for a tenant suing a landlord. A Hawaii court may award a tenant two months’ rent or free occupancy for two months (tenant must have been excluded ”overnight”), and may also order the landlord to stop illegal conduct and to pay a tenant’s court costs and attorney fees. (See: Haw. Rev. Stat. § 521-63(c)).
Under Hawaii law, the landlord must give the tenant written notice of eviction before a tenant must leave.unless the lease has expired. The notice must give the tenant a certain number of days to either leave or correct the problem. Also see: Summary Possession.
The owner of property, such as a house or an apartment, that is leased or rented to another, (also know as the lessor).
Residential leases in Hawaii may be fixed-term or month-to-month. Fixed-term leases automatically expire, while month-to-month are terminated upon written notice by the landlord or the tenant.
Both the landlord and tenant have a statutory duties to maintain the rental unit. A landlord can only evict a tenant for material noncompliance of obligations imposed on tenant under the Code that materially affect health and safety. (See: Haw.Rev.Stat. § 521-51)
When a third person comes between two parties to try andencourage a settlement.
The lease or rental agreement should spell out the key rent rules, including: a) the amount of rent (there are no limits to how much a landlord can charge in Hawaii since there are no communities with rent control in the state); b) where rent is due (such as by mail to the landlord’s business address), c) when rent is due (including what happens if the rent due date falls on a weekend date or holiday), d) how rent should be paid (usually check, money order, cash, and/or credit card), e) the amount of notice landlords must provide to increase rent the amount of any extra fee if your rent check bounces, and f) the consequences of paying rent late, including late fees and termination of the tenancy.State laws in Hawaii cover several of these rent-related issues, including the amount of notice a landlord must provide to increase rent under a month-to-month tenancy, and how much time a tenant has to pay rent or move before a landlord can file for eviction. (See: Haw. Rev. Stat. § 521-21)
Hawaii tenants are legally entitled to rental property that meets basic structural, health, and safety standards and is in good repair. If a landlord fails to take care of important maintenance, such as a leaky roof or a broken heater, you have several important legal rights, including: a) the right to withhold rent until repairs are made, and b) the right to “repair and deduct”—that is, to hire a repairperson to fix a serious defect that makes a unit unfit (or buy a replacement part or item and do it yourself) and deduct the cost from your rent. (See: see Haw.Rev.Stat §§ 521-78.& 521-64).
Hawaii state law prohibits landlords from retaliating against tenants. It is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant in Hawaii who has exercised a legal right, including: a)
complaining to the landlord about unsafe or illegal living conditions; b) complaining to a government agency, such as a building or health inspector, about unsafe or illegal living conditions, or c) exercising a legal right allowed by your state or local law, such as withholding the rent for an uninhabitable unit. (See: (Haw. Rev. Stat. § 521-74) )
Right of Access
Under Hawaii law, a landlord has the right to access a rental unit to a) deal with an emergency, b) to imspect the unit, c) to inspect, make repairs, or make improvements; d) to show the unit to prospective tenants or purchasers; & e) during the tenants extended absence. (See: Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 521-53 & 521-70(b))
In Hawaii, the total amount may not be in excess of one month’s rent. The tenant may not use the deposit as payment for the last month’s rent or any back rent unless the landlord agrees. The landlord may retain all or any portion of the deposit for failure to pay rent, to return the keys, to put the unit in as clean a condition as it was at the start (except for normal wear and tear), or to compensate for damages by a tenant who wrongfully quits the unit. The landlord must notify the tenant in writing of the reasons for retention, including copies of receipts for cleaning and/or repairs. The notice and any portion of the security deposit remaining must be given to the tenant within 14 days after the termination of the rental agreement. If notice is not accomplished within 14 days, all of the security deposit shall be returned to the tenant. (See: Hawaii Revised Statutes § 521-44)..
All subleases/sub-rental agreements are subordinate to the lease/rental agreement and terminate when the lease/rental agreement terminates, unlease there is a contract to the contrary. (See: Haw. Rev. Stat. § 521-71(a, b))
Court process toremove a tenant from a landlord’s property, also called “eviction.” Whne a landlord brings an action for summary possession based on a tenant's failure to pay rent, tenant may assert landlords' breach of an implied warranty of habitability as an affirmative defense. (See: Haw. Rev. Stat. § 521-68(a)).
Any person who occupies a dwelling unit for dwelling purposes under a rental aggreement (See: Haw. Rev. Stat. Sec. 521-8)
Termination notice vary by the type of tenancy (a) when the tenancy is month-to-month, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement by notifying the tenant, in writing, at least forty-five days in advance of the anticipated termination. When the landlord provides notification of termination, the tenant may vacate at any time within the last 45 days of the period between the notification and the termination date, but the tenant shall notify the landlord of the date the tenant will vacate the dwelling unit and shall pay a prorated rent for that period of occupation; (b) When the tenancy is month-to-month the tenant may terminate the rental agreement by notifying the landlord, in writing, at least 28 days in advance of the anticipated termination. When the tenant provides notice of termination, the tenant shall be responsible for the payment of rent through the 28 day; c) when the tenancy is less than month-to-month, the landlord or the tenant may terminate the rental agreement by notifying the other at least 10 days before the anticipated termination. (See: Haw. Rev. Stat. § 521.71)
There are no strict legal definitions for the term uninhabitable living conditions. Generally speaking it is some condition that makes the living in a home or premises impossible. Defects or conditions such as a missing window, broken front security gate, absence of deadbolt locks on exterior doors, a defective electrical outlet, something unhealthy like cockroaches or mold, dangerous criminal activity particularly gangs, drugs and burglaries, an unlit stairway, stagnant swimming pool, an inefficient heater or air conditioner, low water pressure, slow drain or even a bad smell, or noise can render a place uninhabitable. The rented premises must always meet minimum standards of habitability including compliance with applicable building codes. (See: Lund v. MacArthur, 482 P.2d 482 (1969)).