Hawaii Landlord Tenant Laws, Rights, & Regulations [2023]

Discover Hawaii landlord tenant laws, rights, and regulations regarding everything from rent and security deposit laws to maintenance and eviction laws.

By
Rachel Robinson
|
Last Updated
September 8, 2023
Hawaii Landlord Tenant Laws, Rights, & Regulations [2023]

While Hawaii may be known for its stunning landscapes and warm hospitality, delving into its complex rental laws and regulations can be a challenging endeavor. These laws have a direct impact on the rights, responsibilities, and interactions between landlords and tenants, and while comprehensive, they can be overwhelming, and at times daunting.

To assist landlords and tenants in understanding Hawaii's rental laws, we have compiled this comprehensive guide, empowering landlords to both protect their investments and foster successful relationships with their renters. Simultaneously, it ensures renters have the knowledge needed to comprehend and assert their fundamental rights.

Explore a wide range of Hawaii landlord-tenant laws covering critical rental topics, such as tenant screening, security deposits, lease agreements, and eviction procedures. With this invaluable resource as your guide, you'll confidently navigate the rights and regulations outlined in the Hawaii Landlord Tenant Code. Let’s dive in!

Is Hawaii considered a landlord-friendly state?

Hawaii is not considered a landlord-friendly state as compared to some other states. The reason for this is that it provides many housing rights to renters. Specifically, tenants in the state have the right to extended periods of notice before both lease termination or rent increases. Additionally, they can also withhold rent payments under certain circumstances. These regulations can make it more difficult for landlords to run efficient rental businesses.

Hawaii landlord tenant law fast facts

Hawaii landlord obligations and rights

Rights

Landlords and real estate investors in Hawaii are entitled to certain fundamental rights that enable them to run profitable and efficient rental businesses. These rights include:

  • Collecting rent payments in a timely manner
  • Collecting a security deposit to cover property damage beyond normal wear and tear and additional unforeseen costs
  • Pursuing an eviction in case the tenant breaches the terms of the lease
  • Entering their rental property under certain circumstances

Obligations

Hawaii state law also holds rental property owners responsible for certain respsonbilities that ensure a smooth tenancy and a habitable living arrangement for their tenants. Their main responsibilities include:

  • Providing a habitable rental unit that meets their local warrant of habitability
  • Complying with security deposit limits and returning it within 14 days of the tenant moving out
  • Completing necessary repairs 12 days after being notified in writing by the tenant

Hawaii tenant obligations and rights

Rights

Just like landlords, renters in Hawaii have fundamental rights that protect their safety, health, and privacy while residing in a rental property. Here are some of their main rights:

  • Living in a habitable property that complies with local housing and health codes
  • Requesting repairs, and using the “repair and deduct” remedy when necessary
  • Living in a property without interference of their privacy or right to quiet enjoyment

Obligations

Renters in Hawaii have their own set of obligations to uphold in order to maintain a healthy and respectful landlord-tenant relationship. These obligations include:

  • Paying rent on time
  • Keeping the unit in clean and habitable condition, including making small repairs when necessary
  • Keeping fixtures and appliances clean and sanitary
  • Not disturbing other tenants or neighbors
  • Complying with the rental agreement

Hawaii landlord tenant law through the rental cycle

Hawaii rental application and tenant screening laws

According to Hawaii landlord-tenant law, rental property owners have the right to request rental applications and screen prospective tenants. Hawaii does not restrict the type of screening report a landlord can use. However, landlords can only charge application fees to run a screening report.

If a Hawaii landlord wants to charge an application fee, they must provide the prospective tenant with the following:

  1. An explanation of the landlord's screening process
  2. A tenant's right to dispute the accuracy of information provided by a tenant screening service or any other information provided in regard to the tenant's application
  3. If applicable, the contact information of the tenant screening service hired by the landlord.

The application fee itself should not exceed the following the actual cost of a tenant screening service or the costs a landlord incurs from a personal reference check.

Hawaii rental agreement laws

In Hawaii, the lease or rental agreement can either be oral or written, but leases over a year must be in writing. However, it’s always recommended to have a documented agreement since it grants rights and responsibilities to both the landlord and renter.

Hawaii requires landlords to document the condition of the premises and furnishings before occupancy in the lease. All details need to be noted, no matter how small, so that the action condition is recorded.

Find out what else you should include in your lease agreement.

If a tenant wishes to terminate a lease, they must provide a certain amount of notice to the landlord. Week-to-week leases must provide 10 days’ notice, month-to-month leases must provide 28 days’ notice, and for all other lease times, there is no statute.

Tenants can only terminate a lease agreement early if:

  • The lease includes an early termination clause
  • They have active military duty
  • The landlord harasses the tenant
  • The tenant is a victim of domestic violence

If a Hawaii tenant terminates a lease early, they may be liable to pay the rest of the rent payments.

Hawaii security deposit laws

Landlords in Hawaii are allowed to collect a security deposit at the start of a tenancy to cover any damages that exceed normal wear and tear. Security deposits in Hawaii cannot exceed one month’s rent.

Other important Hawaii security deposit laws to note:

  • Landlords do not have to provide a receipt for a security deposit.
  • Landlords are not required to pay interest on security deposits.
  • Landlords do not have to hold the security deposit in a separate bank account.

Once tenants vacate a rental, landlords have 14 days to return the tenant's security deposit with an itemized statement of deductions and any remaining funds if applicable.

Landlords can legally withhold a portion or all of the funds to cover unpaid rent, damages beyond normal wear and tear, cleaning costs, attorney's fees, and compensation in case of early termination of the lease.

If the security deposit is returned late, the tenant can sue for the full security deposit plus three times the amount wrongfully withheld and court costs.

Hawaii rent laws

Hawaii law states that rent should be collected at the beginning of each month unless the lease agreement states otherwise. Every landlord must provide the tenant with a rent payment receipt every month or week depending on the type of lease.

Hawaii does not have rent control laws, allowing landlords to charge whatever rent they deem appropriate and increase rent as much as they want. However, the landlord must provide at least 45 days’ notice for monthly leases and 15 days’ notice for weekly leases.

Regarding late fees, Hawaii landlords are free to charge them, but the fee cannot be more than 8% of rent due. The state’s law does not cover grace periods, so landlords may begin charging a late fee immediately after the tenant fails to pay rent.

It’s important to note that renters in Hawaii cannot withhold rent payments for any reason.

Hawaii repair and maintenance laws

Hawaii tenants have the right to live in a rental unit that meets local housing codes and regulations. In addition to providing a safe and healthy living environment, landlords must do the following in regards to repairs and maintenance:

  • Make all repairs necessary to keep the premises habitable. (Section 42(a)(3))
  • Keep all electrical, plumbing, and other facilities in good working condition. (Section 42(a)(4))
  • Provide and maintain garbage bins and arrange for the removal of waste except for single-family residences. (Section 42(a)(5))
  • Provide running water as reasonably required except when the building type is exempted by law. (Section 42(a)(6))

Landlords in Hawaii are required to make repairs within 12 days after receiving written notice from the tenant. If the landlord fails to make the repairs in a timely manner, tenants may use the “repair and deduct” remedy, take legal action, or cancel the rental agreement.

When using the “repair and deduct” remedy, tenants must provide the landlord with repair receipts and can only deduct up to $500 from the next month’s rent.

Hawaii notice of entry laws

In Hawaii, landlords have the right to enter the rental for reasons including inspections, repairs, and showings. Except in the case of emergencies, landlords must provide tenants with two days’ notice before entering the property at a reasonable time.

Hawaii eviction and lease termination laws

Hawaii state law allows landlords to move forward with the eviction procedure for several reasons, and the required notice period depends on the specific situation. Here are the main reasons a landlord can evict a tenant and the required notice period:

  • Unpaid rent: If a tenant fails to pay rent, the landlord may issue a written 15-day notice to pay. If the tenant still does not pay, then the landlord may move forward with the eviction process.
  • Lease violation: If a tenant violates the lease agreement, the landlord can serve a 10-day notice to comply or vacate. But, for violations such as property damage or material health and safety issues, landlords may give a notice to quit.
  • Illegal acts: If a landlord has proof of illegal activity on the property, they can give the tenant a 24-hour notice to quit for common nuisances. If the nuisance is not corrected, the landlord can give the tenant a 5-day notice to quit before filing for eviction. If the illegal activity causes irreparable harm to other tenants or the rental property, an unconditional notice to quit can be given. For all other illegal activity that does not endanger other tenants or the rental property, a 10-day notice to comply should be given.

Other valid reasons for eviction in Hawaii include the end of the lease, short-term rental conversion, demolition of the rental unit, and condominium conversion.

It’s important to note that landlords in Hawaii cannot change the locks or lock the tenant out of the property without a court order, even if the tenant has not paid their rent. This would be considered a form of self-help eviction.

Additional Hawaii rental laws

In addition to laws covering general issues such as repairs and security deposits, Hawaii landlord-tenant regulations also cover topics such as renter discrimination laws and landlord retaliation. Explore some of these topics below.

Hawaii housing discrimination laws

Like in other states, Hawaii landlords must adhere to the Federal Fair Housing Act and cannot discriminate against tenants based on protected characteristics such as race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, marital status, disability, age, and HIV status.

It’s important to note that these rules do not apply to some owner-occupied homes or rental properties operated by religious organizations.

Tenants who believe their fair housing rights have been violated can file a complaint with HUD or the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission.

Retaliation laws

It’s illegal for landlords in Hawaii to retaliate against tenants for taking protected actions such as reporting a landlord for health and safety violations.

Retaliatory actions in Hawaii include raising rent, reducing services, or threatening eviction. Any acts can have legal repercussions and penalties against the landlord.

Required disclosures

Hawaii landlords must provide renters with the following mandatory disclosures prior to the beginning of the tenancy:

  • Lead-based paint: Landlords with rentals built before 1978 must provide information about concentrations of lead paint.
  • Authorized authorities: Landlords must provide the names and addresses of all parties owning and managing the property.
  • Inventory statement: Landlords must provide an inventory of the rental unit’s condition including all appliances and furnishings if furnished.

Summing up: Understanding landlord tenant laws in Hawaii

In Hawaii, grasping the intricacies of landlord-tenant laws is vital for cultivating a harmonious relationship. These comprehensive laws have been crafted to protect landlords' and tenants' rights and responsibilities, fostering a fair and balanced rental environment.

For landlords in Hawaii, understanding and abiding by these regulations is a means of safeguarding their investments and building positive relationships with their tenants. Equally significant is the empowerment these laws provide to tenants. By comprehending their rights, tenants can ensure a safe and respectful living environment that they can call home.

A successful landlord-tenant relationship in Hawaii lies in mutual respect and adherence to the state's rental laws. With such understanding and cooperation, rental owners and tenants can experience the true meaning of aloha.

Hawaii landlord tenant resources

Here are a few resources that cover Hawaii's state and city laws, ensuring you have the information you need to make informed decisions and comply with the specific regulations relevant to your location.

  1. Handbook for the Hawaii Residential Landlord-Tenant Code: This guide breaks down almost every provision within the state’s landlord-tenant law for both parties, and it even features a Q&A section that can provide insight into issues that fall in legal grey areas.
  2. Fair Housing Policy: This page covers which classes are protected from discrimination in housing by state law.
  3. What Should I Do If I Have a Landlord/Tenant Problem?: This guide details the steps a landlord or renter should take if they have a dispute.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials are for general informational purposes only. This content may not constitute the most up-to-date legal information. No reader, user, or browser of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information herein without first seeking the advice of a legal professional.

Rachel Robinson

Rachel Robinson has 6 years of experience in writing, editing, and SEO, specializing in rental property and real estate. She excels in market trends and landlord-tenant dynamics, producing content that drives traffic and informs. Outside of work, she enjoys climbing Colorado's granite boulders.

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