Hawaii is home to over 1.5 million people; this means that there are several rental opportunities for both landlords and tenants there. Renting a property isn't as complicated as it seems, but you always need to follow some the Hawaii landlord tenant laws if you want your tenancy to go the right way.
An important point in lease agreements how compliant they are with the state law. If your lease agreement doesn't follow the required legal measures, you're likely to have future issues.
The best way to avoid legal issues regarding rentals is to pay close attention to how these rental laws apply to your case. You may adjust your rental agreements to fit these legal requirements. These requirements are also known as the Hawaii landlord-tenant law, and they're the foundation of a healthy leasing relationship.
Going over the entire Residential Landlord-Tenant Code may seem exhausting for some, which is why we're providing an overview of the general clauses of these landlord-tenant laws. By reading this page, you're going to get one step closer to drafting the perfect rental agreement.
Keep in mind that we're going to offer general guidelines for a rental agreement. If you need specific legal advice, make sure to contact an attorney or real estate manager.
Is Hawaii Considered a Landlord-Friendly State?
The state of Hawaii is not generally considered a landlord-friendly state since it provides many housing rights to its tenants. Due to the fact that tenants have slight leverage over their landlords, the latter may have issues with flexibility on their rental agreement.
What Should be Included in a Rental Agreement in Hawaii?
All of the clauses you're going to read on this page are explained further in the Hawaii Revised Statutes (Title 28). As of today, written rental agreements are required for tenancies longer than one year. However, it's suggested that you use a written lease regardless of the duration of the tenancy since it can help you to have physical proof of everything that was agreed upon.
According to Hawaii law, these are some of the required clauses to include in an agreement for a rental property:
- Description of the leased premises.
- Name and address of the landlord and tenant.
- Duration of the tenancy.
- Rent cost.
- Rent fees and grace periods.
- Security deposit clauses.
- Pet clauses (if applicable).
- Person responsible for paying utility bills.
What Are Landlords' Rights and Responsibilities?
The Hawaii landlord-tenant laws state that both parties involved in the lease have a list of rights and responsibilities that they should be aware of at all times. Keep in mind that some of these terms can be adjusted to fit the landlord's needs, as long as they're compliant with Hawaii law.
Hawaii landlords have the right to collect rent payments in a timely manner, collect security deposits to cover unforeseen expenses and lease violations from the tenant, and pursue a proper eviction process in case the tenant breaches the terms of the lease.
Every landlord in Hawaii must make sure that their property fits the required conditions so that it's classified as "habitable." In that sense, landlords must provide requested repairs by the tenant promptly (Usually within 15 days of notice). If the landlord fails to provide these repairs within the notice, tenant rights allow them to take alternative action.
What Are Tenants' Rights and Responsibilities?
Tenants have the right to seek a rental unit in a habitable condition. If the property ever needs some repairs, the Hawaii tenant can request repairs from their landlord. If the landlord doesn't respond within the required notice, the tenant may exercise their repair and deduct right.
Tenants in Hawaii must comply with the following guidelines if they want to keep a healthy leasing relationship with their landlord:
- Maintain the unit in a clean condition.
- Pay rent on time.
- Make small repairs (if necessary).
- Not disturb other neighbors and tenants.
- Comply with other additional clauses required by the landlord.
Hawaii Landlord-Tenant Law - General Clauses
The following is a list of the things that every lease agreement in Hawaii must include to be compliant with state laws. Remember that these laws apply to every tenant and landlord in Hawaii, but they can be adjusted to fit the landlord's needs in some cases.
As with other states, rent is payable at the beginning of each month unless the lease states otherwise. In the case that the landlord doesn't specify any amount for payment of rent, the amount is going to be charged at the fair market value of the unit. Every landlord must provide the tenant with a rent payment receipt every month.
Currently, Hawaii doesn't apply any rent control policies, meaning that the landlord may charge any amount of rent that they consider appropriate.
On the other hand, the landlord may increase the rent as much as they want. However, the landlord must give the tenant at least 45 days' notice for monthly leases and 15 days' notice for weekly leases.
Regarding late fees, landlords may charge them if they want to. Landlords are free to charge any amount that they consider appropriate. However, if the late fees are considered unreasonable, they cannot allow it.
As for grace periods for rent, state laws don't state anything about them; this means that a landlord may charge rental fees to the tenant as soon as the rent goes past its due date.
Finally, Hawaii tenants may be allowed to withhold rent to cover damages that exceed normal wear and tear, and the landlord refuses to repair them. However, a tenant cannot withhold rent without reason.
A security deposit's purpose can go over several things. Overall, security deposits are used to cover damages that exceed normal wear and tear, unpaid rent, or unpaid utilities. Landlords in Hawaii can collect a security deposit from the tenant if they want, but its value cannot exceed the cost of one month s rent.
It's important to note that this value of one month's rent doesn't include any fees for having an animal in the unit. If this is the case, the value for the security deposit can go higher than one month's rent. However, in accordance with Hawaii landlord tenant laws, if a Hawaii tenant wants to take their service animal with them, landlords must give reasonable accommodation for those animals, and they cannot charge pet deposits.
Hawaii landlords must return the security deposit to their tenant within 14 days of the tenant leaving. If the landlord fails to do this, they may be exposed to legal consequences.
Every landlord may choose to withhold a security deposit for any of the following reasons:
- Unpaid rent.
- Excessive damages to the property.
- Cleaning expenses.
- Compensation in case of early termination of the lease.
- Attorney’s fees.
In the case that the landlord wants to withhold the deposit, they must make an itemized list of deductions and give it to their tenant.
Lease Termination and Eviction
A tenant may terminate the lease if they wish. In that case, they must provide a particular amount of notice to their landlord, depending on the type of lease. You can see the required amounts of the notice below:
- Weekly Term- 10 days' notice.
- Monthly Term- 28 days' notice.
- Quarterly Term - Non-applicable.
- Yearly Term - Non-applicable.
On the other hand, the tenant can request early termination of the lease if one of the following conditions are met:
- Domestic violence or harassment.
- Active military duty.
- Early termination clause.
- The unit doesn't comply with health and safety codes.
As for evictions, Hawaii landlords are legally allowed to evict their tenant from the unit under the following circumstances:
- Breach of the Lease: 10 days' notice to cure or quit.
- Nonpayment of Rent: 5 days' notice to pay or quit.
- Criminal Activity: 5-day notice to quit.
At-will tenants with a monthly lease must receive at least 45 days of notice before they get evicted. On the other hand, tenants with a weekly term must receive a 10-day notice.
See our full guide on the eviction process and laws for Hawaii.
The Hawaii Civil Rights Commission and the Fair Housing Act protect tenants from being discriminated against based on their race, familial status, sex, color, nationality, or disability.
Landlords' Right to Entry in Hawaii
Every landlord must send two days' notice before they enter the premises. However, the notice required for entry can be adjusted to fit the tenant and landlord's needs. Landlords can enter the property without any notice in emergency cases.
Overall, landlord-tenant laws are not complicated to follow. If you take the time to review them all, you're likely to identify everything that you need for your agreement. If you have any more doubts about what a landlord and tenant can or cannot do in a specific rental case, contact a lawyer or real estate manager.
What is a condominium conversion project?
If the landlord has any plans to turn the unit into a condo, they must notify the tenant within 120 days of the end of the agreement.
Must the landlord disclose information about lead paint?
The landlord must disclose information regarding lead paint concentrations in their property if it was built before 1978. Read more about lead paint.
Can the locks be changed on a property in Hawaii?
A tenant can request the landlord to change the property's locks if they become a victim of abuse or domestic violence. In those cases, the tenant must send notice and proof of these claims.
How large of a case may a small claims court hear in Hawaii?
A small claims court can hear rental cases valued up to $5,000. Keep in mind that these courts cannot hear eviction cases.