These vary from county to county—a Honolulu eviction may be different from a Kapolei eviction—but they still follow the same general process:
Once a landlord wins the case, they can ask for a court order called a Writ of Possession to order a tenant to move out of the property. A landlord cannot evict a tenant without one being issued to them.
This article details a summary for landlords to refer to when evicting a tenant. Alternatively, a landlord can also ask for legal advice from an attorney for more information on the eviction rules.
The first step all evictions must take is providing a notice called a Notice to Quit. There are only some states which do not require a Notice to Quit, and even then, it depends on the reason for eviction.
1. Failure to Pay Rent
A landlord can evict a tenant for not paying rent on time. Rent in Hawaii is considered late a day past its due.
Before starting the eviction process, a landlord must give the tenant an official written 5-Day Notice to Quit. This gives the tenant five days to either pay rent or leave,
If a tenant wants to avoid getting evicted, they have to pay rent that is due. Tenants who can pay rent in full before the hearing cannot get evicted.
In this case, the eviction process is stopped. However, if a tenant cannot pay rent in full, the tenant must vacate the rental property.
Should they remain past the notice period of five days, the landlord can continue filing for eviction.
2. Violation of the lease/rental agreement
A lease agreement can vary from tenant to tenant. It contains the responsibilities of each party during the entire duration of the tenant’s stay.
A tenant may face eviction for violating the terms of the lease. Both tenant and landlord must uphold the lease agreement at all times.
If a tenant violates any terms from the lease agreement, the landlord must give a written notice called a 10-Day Notice to Comply. This notice informs the tenant that they have 10 days to either fix their violation or vacate the property.
Lease violations in a Hawaii eviction include:
- Damage to the rental unit
- Smoking in non-smoking areas
- Housing a pet in a pet-free rental unit or rental property, etc.
However, in the case of property damage and violations pertaining to material health and safety, the landlord is not required to give the tenant time to fix the violation.
3. Conducting illegal activity
If a tenant has engaged in activity that could be considered a “common nuisance,” the landlord is required to give them a written 24 Hours’ Notice to fix the issue.
Should they fail to fix the issue within the given time, another notice must be given, called a 5-Day Notice to Quit. If they are still in the property by the end of the five days, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
However, if the illegal activity threatens or harms the other tenants, a landlord is not required to give the tenant time to fix the issue. Instead, they are to be given an unconditional Notice to Quit.
In cases where the actions of a tenant are not considered a “common nuisance” and do not threaten or harm the other tenants, a notice must be given called a 10-Day Notice to Comply.
4. Rental unit is about to be demolished
If a rental unit is going to be demolished, tenants must move out of the rental unit. A landlord has to give month-to-month tenants at least 120 days’ notice before proceeding with evictions.
5. Rental unit is to be converted into a short-term rental
Conversion to a short-term rental means renting the property out on programs such as Airbnb. A month-to-month tenant must receive 120 days’ notice before the landlord can file for an eviction lawsuit.
6. Rental unit is to be converted into a condominiums
In this case, tenants have no choice but to move out of the property. The landlord must give month-to-month tenants 120 days’ notice before filing for an eviction lawsuit.
7. Non-renewal of lease after the end of the rental period
A Hawaii eviction process does not allow a landlord to evict a tenant without good cause. However, if the tenant becomes a “holdover” tenant, the eviction process may begin after the notice period.
A holdover tenant is someone who overstays their lease term without applying for a renewal. This type of notice usually only applies if the landlord wants to end the tenant’s lease.
A landlord can start filing for eviction for tenants who remain on the rental property after the end of their notice period. Find here an example of a 10-Day Notice to Quit and a 45-Days’ Notice to Quit.
Filing a Complaint
The next step to a state of Hawaii eviction process is filing a legal complaint in the correct district court. Successful evictions rely on the proper filing of a complaint.
Filing fees are $155 whether the eviction is happening in Honolulu or otherwise.
1. How to file a complaint
- Proceed to the district court the rental property belongs to
- Fill out the forms to file the complaint
- Pay the fees
It takes about 5-120 days after the eviction notice was given to the tenant before filing a complaint.
Serving the Tenant
The next step in an eviction process is serving the Summons and Complaint to the tenant. In most cases, the landlord cannot serve the documents by themselves.
Hawaii state allows individuals over the age of 18 who are uninvolved in the case, the local sheriff or police chief, or anyone else appointed by the court to serve the documents.
The date and time of the court trial must be found in the Summons.
1. How to serve documents to a tenant
The documents must be served through one of the following methods:
- Personal Service: The Summons and its supporting documents are given to the tenant in person
- Substituted Service: If the tenant is unavailable, a copy of the Summons may be left with someone residing with the tenant.
- Posting: A copy of the documents is placed in a secure and visible position by the entrance of the tenant’s rented property.
2. After serving the Summons and Complaint
In the state of Hawaii, tenants need to file an answer with the court to appear at the court trial within 5-7 days after receiving the Summons. They must explain why they disagree with the landlord’s case against them.
Failure to do so may result in a default judgment in favor of the landlord.
There is no specific length of time for a tenant to receive the Summons and its corresponding documents. However, once they receive it, they have 5-7 days to file an answer so that they may appear in court.
Asking for Possession
1. Filing a Motion to Obtain Judgement and get a Judgement for Possession
To win and accomplish this step, landlords must provide a strong argument backed up by solid evidence against their tenants. Should the tenants fail to show up to the hearing, the landlords may win by default.
There is still a small chance that a judge rules in favor of the tenant, even if the tenant cannot attend the eviction hearing.
2. Next procedure if the tenant disagreed and filed an answer
On the date of the trial, the landlord has to support their claim with evidence and show it to the judge. This includes but is not limited by the following:
- Copy of the deed and the lease/rental agreement
- Rent receipts
- Rent ledgers
- Bank statements
- Witness statements
- Photo and video documentation of the violations committed by the tenant
An eviction hearing for an eviction lawsuit is scheduled depending on the availability of the court. It may take a few days to a few weeks from the date the landlord filed the suit for a date to be scheduled.
1. After the landlord wins the case and gets a Writ of Possession
The court will issue a Writ of Possession a few hours to a few days after the landlord wins the case. This court order informs the tenant that they have to get out of their housing on the property or else they will be forcibly removed.
The Writ of Possession is not given automatically. The landlord must request the court judge for it to be issued.
2. Move out process
This final step in the eviction process is to move the tenant out of their housing. Hawaii laws do not dictate a specific amount of time before the tenant has to move out.
However, a date may be specified in the Writ of Possession. The date for moving out may differ between evictions depending on the reason for eviction or the circumstances surrounding it.
A law enforcement officer could visit the property once the grace period in the Writ of Possession ends. Should a tenant still be in their unit, they will be forcibly removed.
Only the sheriff or the appropriate authorities are allowed to evict the tenant by force. Even if the landlord wins the case, they cannot engage in illegal methods of eviction.
If any belongings are left behind, landlords are advised to contact the tenant and give them 15 days to claim them.
After 15 days from the date, the landlord contacted the tenant has passed, the tenant’s property can be sold or disposed of. Any money earned by the landlord through the tenant’s property may be used to pay off unpaid due rent or any other expenses for repairs.
Should there be any money left over, it must be held in a trust for the tenant for 30 days.
There is no specific length of time before a tenant has to vacate the rental property. The Writ of Possession could contain this information.
However, any money earned by the landlord from selling a tenant’s abandoned belongings has to be kept in a trust for the tenant for 30 days.
Hawaii Eviction Process Timeline
On average, it would take anywhere between 4 weeks to 8 weeks for a complete eviction process in Hawaii.
1. How to keep good records
If the tenant disagrees with the eviction request and they reply to the court, it’s important that you keep extremely good records of everything so you can provide sufficient proof to win the case in court. This part can make or break your entire eviction request in the event of a dispute.
You can stay organized by:
- Keeping a physical paper trail - This gets VERY hard to search through, takes up a lot of storage space, and could get lost, damaged, stolen, or burnt in a fire.
- Scanning documents - Scan every document into your computer. A great scanner is the Brother ADS-1700W for under $200 or the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1500 for $400.
- Backups - Store and backup every file using Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or any other option that is easily searchable.
- PMS - Use a property management software to save everything from lease agreements, signed documents, violations, emails, notes, invoices, payments, reminders, maintenance requests, pictures, videos, and anything you can imagine. This is used best when you also scan every document into your software.
2. Evidence to show for not paying rent
If the tenant doesn’t pay rent, and they dispute that claim, it’s important that you show the judge the following:
- Your lease agreement - Showing the terms of the agreement, when rent is due, and any penalties for late payment.
- All payments - Showing all previous payments, how they were normally made (check, credit card, ACH, etc…), and what date they were normally paid on.
- Any payment returns - If their check bounced, their bank account had insufficient funds, or they did a chargeback dispute on their credit card, show this to the Judge. Also show any fees your bank may have charged you, and any penalties you are owed according to your lease agreement.
- All messages - If you sent your tenant automated or manual payment reminders by text, email, a letter, or mail, it’s important to show this. While it’s usually not needed, it’s still good to show that they were aware of the situation and were given time to cure and make payment. This is why it’s always best to have everything in writing instead of any phone calls or face-to-face meetings.
3. Evidence to show for lease violations
If you are evicting the tenant for lease violations, for example, noise complaints, unauthorized pets, or property damages, it’s important to show proof from any of the following methods:
- Security Cameras - If you have a surveillance system that can show them violating the lease or committing some crime, it’s safe to say you will normally win this dispute.
- Video - If you didn’t catch them in the act, the next best thing is to record a video with your phone of any damages or the lease violation.
- Pictures - They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, a picture could be worth thousands of dollars! Even if you take a video, it’s important to show the Judge any pictures too as it’s usually easier to see by email or printed.
- Lease Terms - Once again, show the court which term they violated in their lease agreement. Don’t worry if you don’t have every single term spelled out in your rental agreement. If the violation is bad enough, it might not be needed to have it written. As a good practice though, start adding all of the potential reasons to evict a tenant into your agreement.
1. Can I force a tenant to move out in Hawaii?
In almost every state in the US, a landlord must never try to force a tenant to move out of the rental unit. The tenant can only be removed from a rental unit after the landlord has successfully won an eviction lawsuit. Even then, the only person authorized to remove the tenant is a sheriff or constable. Just like in many other states, Hawaii has made it illegal for a landlord to forcefully evict a tenant from the property.
2. What is a self-help eviction?
Examples of illegal “self-help” evictions include changing the locks, taking the tenant’s belongings, removing the front door, or turning off the heat or electricity. Many states specify how much money a tenant can sue for if the landlord has tried to illegally evict the tenant through some sort of self-help measure. Some state laws also provide for tenant's court costs and attorneys' fees (if the tenant successfully sues the landlord) and/or give the tenant the right to stay in the rental unit.
3. What are the potential penalties for a self-help eviction?
According to Hawaii Civil Code, you may be liable for Tenant’s Court Costs & Attorneys’ Fees. The statute also grants the tenant the right to stay.
A tenant can sue you for actual damages plus violations. Tenants may ask for an injunction prohibiting any further violation during the court action.
Can you kick someone out without an eviction notice in Hawaii?
No. A landlord could be sued for forceful eviction of a tenant if they skip the proper eviction processes.
It is against Hawaii law to not provide a tenant with the appropriate written notice before proceeding with an eviction lawsuit. Landlords are advised to use the correct forms when handing in an eviction notice along with the reason for eviction.
In the state of Hawaii, tenants can sue their landlords for the following amounts:
- Payment of two months’ rent OR;
- Free occupancy for two months
How do I evict a squatter in Hawaii?
The eviction process for a squatter is different from a regular eviction. There are still rules involved when attempting to evict a squatter.
The information provided on this website will help you go about eviction the legal way.
Is there a COVID eviction moratorium in Hawaii?
Yes. A landlord should be aware of any information regarding the COVID-19 Eviction Policies because there have been some statewide changes.
What other laws should I be aware of in Hawaii?
Landlords need to check out laws on Security Deposits. One needs to learn how these deposits can protect the landlord when there is unpaid rent or repairs.
Landlords also need to read about Landlord-Tenant laws in Hawaii, which is often called the Landlord-Tenant Act, so that they are aware of the rules and regulations in the state when it comes to evictions.
Knowing at least a little information on these laws will help a landlord win an eviction lawsuit.