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Landlord/Tenant Law Overview-Hawaii

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OVERVIEW OF
HAWAII RESIDENTIAL 
LANDLORD/TENANT LAW

COPYRIGHT 2000-2011 LANDLORD.COM

DISCLAIMER

The topics covered are:

Creation of Tenancy, Rents and Rental Agreement
Rental Agreement
Security Deposit

Discrimination
Pets and Waterbeds
Condition Maintenance and Repair
Tenant Obligations
Rules
Access
Defaults and Termination of Tenancy

This overview
is sponsored by:
 
John Ing,
Attorney At Law
Hawaii


Additional information is provided to assist you in finding other legal resources on the Internet, i.e.,

http://www.findlaw.com
http://www.lawguru.com
http://www.nolo.com


Creation of Tenancy, Rents and Rental Agreement

The following applies to Hawaii residential leases and rental agreements only, not to agreements for dorms, purchase contracts, fraternities, transient accommodations ("hotels, motels") residence conditioned upon employment, leases for residential land of 15 years or more, homeless facilities, public housing complexes, or transitional facilities for the abused. 

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Rental Agreement
 
Rental agreements may be either oral or written, expressed or implied, for a fixed term or on a periodic basis, such as month to month or week to week. In absence of a written agreement, the tenancy shall be presumed to be month to month, or in the case of borders, week to week.

If a tenancy is month to month, the amount of rent shall not be increased unless written notice is given to the tenant at least 45 days before the increase. If tenancy is less than month to month, rent may be increased only with written notice to the tenant given 15 days before the increase. Rent is presumed to be payable at the beginning of the term, not the conclusion. 

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Security Deposits

Security deposits may be used to remedy tenant defaults, including the failure to pay rent, to return all keys at the termination of the rental agreement, clean the unit at the termination of the agreement in the same or better condition as when the tenant first moved into the premises and to compensate for damages caused by tenant who wrongfully quits. Security deposits shall not exceed the sum of one month's rent. The deposit, however, shall not be automatically construed to be the last month's rent, unless agreed upon, and if the tenant gives at least 45 days advance notice.

The landlord must either return the tenant's Security Deposit or notify the tenant in writing within 14 days of the tenant's moving out of why the deposit is being retained, including written evidence of the costs to remedy tenant defaults (e.g. Estimates or invoices, receipts.) If the landlord does not do so, he/she may not retain the security deposit. 

If the tenant is absent from the dwelling unit for at least 20 continuous days without written notice to the landlord, the tenant shall be deemed to have wrongfully quit the unit and the landlord may retain the entire amount of the security deposit in addition to any other rights or remedies. Landlord may not require post-dated checks to be used for rent. If the landlord transfers his/her interest in the unit, the original landlord shall provide an accounting of security deposits for each dwelling unit to his/her successor and within 20 days after that, the successor shall give written notice to each tenant of the amount of security deposit held for that tenant. If the landlord fails to do that, it will be presumed the tenant paid a security deposit equal to no less than one month's rent. Any disputes regarding security deposit shall be dealt with in Small Claims Division of the proper District Court in Hawaii. The Court may award a tenant damages in an amount of up to 3 times the amount of the security deposit, plus the cost of a suit, if a landlord wrongfully or willfully retains the security deposit.

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Discrimination

Hawaii is governed by both the Federal Fair Housing Act and the Hawaii Civil Rights Act.

Pets and Waterbeds

Landlords may refuse to rent to tenants with pets. Landlords may refuse to rent to tenants with waterbeds.

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Condition Maintenance and Repair

The landlord shall at all times

1. comply with all building and housing laws materially affecting health and safety,
2. keep the common area of a multi-dwelling unit premises in clean and safe condition,
3. make all repairs necessary to keep the premises in a habitable condition,
4. maintain all electrical, plumbing and other facilities in good working order, subject to reasonable wear and tear,
5. except in cases of single family residences, provide and maintain appropriate receptacle and conveniences for trash, and
6. except for single-family residences, provide running water. 

Prior to the initial occupancy, the landlord must inventory the premises and make a written record detailing the condition of the premises and all furnishings and appliances provided. Duplicate copies of the inventory must be signed by the landlord and by the tenant(s) and a copy given to each tenant. If the landlord fails to make such an inventory and written record, the condition of the premises and any furnishings or appliances provided upon termanancy may be reputedly presumed to be the same as when the tenant first occupied the premises. The landlord and tenant may agree that the tenant is to provide specific repairs and minor remodeling only if:

1. the agreement is entered into in good faith and not to evade the obligations of the landlord,
2. the work performed by the tenant is not necessary to correct any non-compliance by landlord,
3. the agreement of the landlord and the tenant does not diminish the obligations of landlord to other tenants.
The landlord must, upon entering into a rental agreement, disclose to tenant in writing the name and address of each person authorized to manage the premises and each person who is an owner of the premises and authorized to act on behalf of the owner for service of process and receiving and receipting rents, notices and demands. Such information must be kept current at all times.

If the rental agreement is in writing, the landlord must furnish a copy of the rental agreement to each tenant, the landlord must provide tenant with a written receipt for rents paid at the time of payment. Canceled checks constitute written receipt. If residing out of Hawaii, or on another island, the landlord must designate an agent residing on the same island where the unit is located. The landlord must provide the Hawaii General Excise Tax license number to all tenants for the purpose of filing for the low income tax credit. 

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Tenant Obligations

The tenant must comply with all building and housing laws:
1. reflecting health and safety,
2. keep the premises in clean and safe condition as allowed,
3. dispose of all rubbish, garbage and other waste in a clean and safe manner,
4. keep all plumbing fixtures as clean as the condition permits,
5. proper use and operation of all electrical and plumbing fixtures and appliances, 
6. not permit any person to willfully destroy, deface, damage, impair or remove any part of the premises including facilities, equipment and appliances,
7. keep the unit and all appliances, furniture and furnishings in fit condition, reasonable wear and tear accepted, and
8. comply with all obligations which landlord can demonstrate necessary to preserve property and protection of persons

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Rules

The tenant must comply with all rules concerning the tenant's use, occupancy and maintenance of the unit only when brought to the attention of the tenant upon entry of rental agreement or brought to the attention of the tenant and consented to in writing by the tenant. Such rules must:

1. Promote convenience, safety and welfare of the property or the landlord's property from abusive use or for distribution of services and facilities held by tenants generally,
2. be reasonably related to the purpose established,
3. be applied to all tenants of the property in a fair manner, and
4. be sufficiently explicit in its prohibition, direction or limitation.
If the unit is an apartment or is a condominium, the tenant must also comply with the condominium house rules and bylaws. 

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Access

The tenant shall not unreasonably withhold consent to allow the landlord to enter the unit to inspect, make necessary and agreed repairs, decorations, alterations or improvements, supply services as agreed, or show the dwelling to prospective purchasers, mortgagees or tenants. The landlord shall not abuse this right nor harass the tenant. Unless an emergency, the landlord shall give at least two days notice of his/her intent to enter, and shall enter only during reasonable hours. The tenant may be required to notify the landlord of any extended absences from the unit (i.e. more than 20 days). The tenant is also responsible to notify landlord of any defective conditions, whether the duty is of the landlord or the tenant to repair, as soon as possible.

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Defaults and Termination of Tenancy

The landlord must demand in writing payment of any delinquent rent, giving the tenant not less than 5 business days after receipt of the letter to pay. Then the landlord can go to court to file the action for summary possession. This may be given to the tenant by posting the notice in a conspicuous place on the dwelling unit. 
If the tenant is not complying with maintaining the unit or conducting unlawful activity, landlord shall give tenant not less than 10 days written notice to comply, or the landlord may sue for eviction or the landlord may remedy and bill the tenant for the cost of the remedy. The bill will be treated as rent due and payable.

Rent Collection Date
Landlord may also bring action for waste or breach of contract for damages resulting from the tenant's willful or negligence to comply with his/her obligations

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