Hawaii Rental Laws

Written on October 31, 2014 by , updated on November 1, 2017

flag-of-hawaiiThis article summarizes some key Hawaii Landlord-Tenant Laws applicable to residential rental units.

The Official State Statutes and other reputable municipal sources were used to research this information. All sources are cited appropriately.

With that said, landlord-tenant laws are always changing, and may even vary from county to county. You have a responsibility to perform your own research and cautiously apply the laws to your unique situation.

If you have a legal question or concern, I only recommend contacting a licensed attorney referral service that is operated by the state bar association. This article is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal advice.

Official Rules and Regulations

Security Deposit:

  • Security Deposit Maximum: No more than one month’s rent, plus a pet deposit, if pets are allowed and tenant has a pet. (§521-44(b))
  • Security Deposit Interest: Not required (handbook, p. 25)
  • Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: No statute
  • Pet Deposits: Beyond the security deposit, a separate pet deposit of no more than one month’s rent may be required by the landlord, but not if the tenant does not have a pet or if the animal is a qualified service animal for a tenant with a disability. (§521-44(b))
  • Non-Refundable Fees: No statute
  • Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: 14 days after the termination of the rental agreement (§521-44(c))
  • Permitted Uses of the Deposit:
    • Tenant defaults for accidental or intentional damages resulting from failure to comply with section statutory Tenant Obligations;
    • Failure to pay rent;
    • Failure to return all keys furnished by the landlord at the termination of the rental agreement;
    • Clean the unit or have it cleaned after move-out to return the premises to the same condition as when the tenant moved in;
    • Compensate for damages by a tenant who wrongfully abandons the rental, and;
    • Compensate for damages caused by an animal allowed under the rental agreement. (§521-44)
  • Require Written Description/Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Yes, unless the tenant had wrongfully quit the unit, the landlord shall notify the tenant in writing of the grounds for the withholdings along with written evidence of the costs to remedy damage caused by tenant, such as estimates or invoices for material and services or of the costs of cleaning, such as receipts for supplies and equipment or charges for cleaning services. (§521-44(c))
  • Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No statute
  • Receipt of Deposit: No statute
  • Failure to Comply: If the landlord fails to provide the tenant written notice of withholdings and other required information within 14 days of termination, the landlord may not retain any part of the security deposit, and the landlord shall return the entire security deposit to the tenant. For any disagreement over retention of the deposits, either landlord or tenant may sue in small claims court for damages and the cost of suit. (§521-44(c)(g) and (h))

Lease, Rent & Fees:

  • Rent Is Due: Unless otherwise agreed, rent is due at the beginning of each month. (§521-21(b))
  • Rent Increase Notice: For month-to-month leases, 45-day written notice is required prior to the effective date of the increase. For tenancies that are less than month-to-month, 15-day written notice is required prior to the effective date of the increase. (§521-21(d)(e))
  • Rent Grace Period: No statute (handbook, p. 26)
  • Late Fees: Allowed, but no statute regulates the amount (handbook, p. 4)
  • Prepaid Rent: At the beginning of a tenancy, landlord may not require payment beyond the allowed deposits and first month’s rent. No part of the security deposit shall be construed as payment of the last month’s rent, unless otherwise agreed to in writing by both parties and if the tenant also provides 45-day notice prior to move-out. The landlord also shall not require any postdated check to be used for payment of rent. (§521-44(b)(2) and (e))
  • Returned Check Fees: $30 (unconfirmed)
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services or Habitability: Yes, but the tenant must follow the process outlined by §521-78.
  • Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: Yes, if landlord fails to remedy conditions after one week following written notification by the health department or other agency of a health or safety violation, tenant may immediately do the repairs or have the work done, submit receipts to the landlord and deduct the costs of repairs, not to exceed $500, from the rent.(§521-64)
  • Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney’s Fees:Yes, a rental agreement may provide for the payment by the tenant of the costs of a suit, for unpaid rent, and reasonable attorney’s fees not more than 25 percent of the unpaid rent.
    (§521-35)
  • Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Rerent: Yes, the tenant shall be liable to the landlord for the lesser of the following amounts for such abandonment (§521-70(d)):
    1. The entire rent due for the remainder of the term; or
    2. All rent accrued during the period reasonably necessary to re-rent the dwelling unit at the fair rental, plus the difference between such fair rent and the rent agreed to in the prior rental agreement and a reasonable commission for the renting of the dwelling unit.
  • Abandonment/Early Termination Fee: No statute

Notices and Entry:

  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: Termination is automatic and there is no notice requirement. (handbook, p. 13)
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Yearly Lease with No End Date: No statute
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Month-to-Month Lease: 
    • Landlord must give 45 days notice in writing. (§521-71(a))
    • Tenant must give 28 days notice in writing. §521-71(b))
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Week-to-Week Lease: 10 days (§521-71(d))
  • Immediate Termination of Tenancy: Allowed, if the tenant causes or threatens to cause damage to any person, or constitutes a violation of section 521-51(1) or (6). (§521-52§521-70(c) and §521-72)
  • Notice of Termination of All Other Leases for Nonpayment: 5 days to Remedy or Quit (§521-68)
  • Notice of Termination Due to Condo Conversion: If the landlord converts a rental property to condominiums under chapters §514A or §514B, the landlord must provide notice to the tenant at least 120 days prior to the termination of the rental agreement. (§521-38)
  • Termination for Lease Violation: 10 days to Remedy or Quit. Landlord must wait an additional 20 days before filing for eviction. (§521-72)
  • Notice to Terminate for Nuisances: 5 days, but tenant has 24 hours to remedy. (§666-3)
  • Termination at the Beginning of Tenancy: 
    • Tenant may terminate the rental agreement and vacate the premises at any time during the first week of occupancy if landlord fails to conform to the rental agreement, or fails to supply and maintain habitable premises in compliance with 521-42(a).
    • The tenant shall also retain the right to terminate beyond the first week of occupancy if the tenant remains in possession based on a written or oral promise by landlord to correct the noncompliance which would justify termination by tenant. (§521-62)
  • Notice of Date/Time of Move-Out Inspection: No statute
  • Required Notice before Entry: Two days notice required, and entry allowed only at reasonable times. (§521-53(b))
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): Yes (§521-53(a))
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Showings: Yes (§521-53(a))
  • Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Yes (§521-53(b))
  • Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: During any extended absence of the tenant, landlord may enter the dwelling unit as reasonably necessary for purposes of inspection, maintenance, and safe-keeping or for the purposes permitted by §521-53(a). (§521-70(b))
  • Notice Required of Extended Tenant Absence: Landlord may require in the rental agreement that tenant provide notification of any anticipated extended absence from the premises no later than the first day of such absence. (§521-54)
  • Tenant’s Responsibility to Inform landlord: Tenant shall report to the landlord as soon as practicable any defective condition of the premises which comes to the tenant’s attention, which the tenant has reason to believe is unknown to the landlord, and which the tenant has reason to believe is the duty of the landlord or of another tenant to repair. (§521-55)
  • Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No statute
  • Lockouts Allowed: No, punishable by two month’s rent or free occupancy. (§521-63(c))
  • Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No, punishable by two month’s rent or free occupancy. (§521-63(c))

Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:

  • Name and Addresses: Landlord or landlord’s agent must disclose the name and address of anyone authorized to manage the premises as well as the name and address of each owner or person authorized to act on behalf of the owner for purposes of service of process and for receiving rent, notices and demands. (§521-43(a)(b))
  • Copy of the Lease: Landlord shall furnish a copy of the lease or rental agreement to the tenant. (§521-43(d))
  • Domestic Violence Situations: No statute
  • Landlord’s Duties: (§521-42)
    • Compliance: Comply with all applicable building and housing laws materially affecting health and safety;
    • Repairs: Make all repairs and arrangements necessary to put and keep the premises in a habitable condition;
    • Common Areas: Keep common areas of a multi-dwelling unit premises in a clean and safe condition;
    • Maintenance: Maintain all electrical, plumbing, and other facilities and appliances supplied by the landlord in good working order and condition, subject to reasonable wear and tear; and
    • Trash: Except for single family homes, provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the removal of normal amounts of garbage, and arrange for their frequent removal;
    • Water: Except for single-family homes, or where the building is not required by law to be equipped for the purpose, provide for the supplying of running water as reasonably required by the tenant.
  • Tenant’s Duties: (§521-51)
    • Compliance: Comply with all applicable building and housing laws materially affecting health and safety;
    • Cleanliness: Keep that part of the premises the tenant occupies and uses as clean and safe as the conditions of the premises permit;
    • Trash: Dispose from the dwelling all garbage and other organic or flammable waste in a clean and safe manner;
    • Plumbing: Keep all plumbing fixtures in the dwelling or used by the tenant as clean as their condition permits;
    • Appliances: Properly use and operate all electrical and plumbing fixtures and appliances in the dwelling or used by the tenant;
    • Damges: Not permit any person on the premises with the tenant’s permission to destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the premises which include the dwelling unit, the facilities or equipment, nor shall the tenant do any such thing; and
    • Fit Condition: Keep the dwelling and all facilities, appliances, furniture, and furnishings supplied therein by the landlord in fit condition, reasonable wear and tear excepted;
    • Compliance with House Rules: Comply with all obligations, restrictions and rules in accordance with §521-52 and which landlord can demonstrate are necessary to preserve the property and protect landlord, other tenants, or any other person.
  • Abandoned Personal Property: The landlord may: (§521-56)
    1. sell such personalty, in a commercially reasonable manner,
    2. store such personalty at the tenant’s expense, or
    3. donate such personalty to a charitable organization according to the following rules:
    • The landlord shall make reasonable efforts to notify the tenant of the intent to sell or donate such personalty by mailing notice to the tenant’s forwarding address, or to any other address designated by the tenant, or if neither of these is available, to the tenant’s previous known address.
    • 15 days after the notice is received by the tenant, the landlord may sell the personalty after advertising the sale in a daily paper of general circulation within the circuit in which the premises is located for at least three consecutive days, or the landlord may donate the personalty to a charitable organization.
    • The proceeds of the sale of personalty, after deduction of accrued rent and costs of storage, sale and advertising, shall be held in trust for the tenant for 30 days, after which time the proceeds shall be forfeited to the landlord.
    • When the tenant has quit the premises any personalty in or around the premises left unsold, or otherwise left abandoned by the tenant and determined by the landlord to be of no value may be disposed of at the landlord’s discretion without liability to the landlord.
  • Subleasing: Allowed, unless otherwise agreed to in the lease. A lease may also provide that the tenant’s right to sublet is subject to the consent of the landlord. (§521-37)
  • Retaliation: Landlord must not terminate or refuse to renew a lease to a tenant who has filed an official complaint to a Government Authority, or has exercised a legal right. Read §521-74 for more information.
  • Lead Disclosure: Landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards.

Court Related:

Business Licenses:

  • Business License Required: No statewide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local governing authority.
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54 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Ray

    Rent to own the house I live in. To find out the company has disappeared with my money. Don’t know what to do. Been over 2years couldn’t get a hold of anyone. Couldn’t find owner of house or bank. This year some trustee letters for a person of the house . Tried to look up name with no luck. Now I’m getting letters from a person claiming to be a commissioner for the house appointed by the court. He wants to re-set locks. Does anyone know what is my rights or what I can do or do I just get up and leave and loose everything I put into this house (since 2010) .. how do I know own if he legit, how much time do I have to get out. Don’t have much to get a attorney have 4 kids and a dog.. lost and stuck don’t no what to do

    • Rod Kreinbrink

      Hi Ray. Wow, I am surprised at no one bothered to answer your email. But Hey, I live in Florida, and its not Hawaii or anything like that. However, here in Florida we have public records in which anyone can go down to the courthouse and sit through the public records to look at deeds, liens, and foreclosure information of the like. Now, I am not an attorney, nor can give legal advice as for what you should do. But first, I would think that anyone should know what kind of predicament they were in, and the courthouse has your answer for you. I would start by the owners legal information as to who owns the home and then use their name in to public record to find out what is going on in the place your live.

      Best Regards.
      rodk.

  • Steve Jolicoeur

    We rented an apt with the verbal promise that we would be allowed to rent the second bedroom and now the leasing agent claims it says no subleasing on the lease, That is true, but she explained that they just need to do a background check on them. They no are making up BS, like so many slum lords on Maui to deny us renting the second bedroom!! Our question is, how long can a “guest” stay with us in our rented apt on Maui?

    • Rod Kreinbrink

      This is a very good question for any renter, and I do not have an answer for you. Only an real estate attorney should answer this question. They are the best ones to ask in this regard, as they deal with evictions, and violations to rental contracts and of such. I would be very careful. You may find yourself liable for anyone else’s behavior that may be “staying” with you. In Florida, there are plenty of pedophiles around and are always looking for a cheap place to stay. People with anger management problems, or even criminal convictions with felonies on their record. You could be held responsible for their actions if you willingly let a dangerous individual into the neighborhood, and they commit crimes. Best Regards.

  • Sundae

    My landlord wanted to make repairs in my unit while I was at work. When I said, I don’t know these people, are they trustworthy? He said he has known the workers for years and they are completely trustworthy.

    I find out that 200 Silver Eagles worth approx $4000 were taken from my unit. I also find out he only knew one of the workers for five days before work started. This man was in my unit for hours by himself and found my Coins. I discovered this man has criminal records in Washington and Utah. I filed a police report and they say they can’t do anything unless they find the coins on him. I learn that the landlord did not change the locks, lock box and security codes for the alarm system since the last tenant. Is there any recourse?

    • Rod Kreinbrink

      Hello Sundae. You have not proven anything. You have not proven that this man has taken your coins, or that someone else may have broke into stealing them. It may have been the landlord himself. see an attorney. But there are some areas of question. For instance, did the landlord rekey all locks from the last renter? Is this “due care.” Also what steps did the landlord take to not let dangerous people inside your home. Go to the local pawn shops and ask for silver coins for sale or on pawn. Do not tell them your story. If you do, then They then will not help you. Ask the pawn guys. “how many coins you got:”?. If its close report it to the police. They will get the name. You will have to make the connection. G.L

      • Sundae

        No, I can’t prove it. The police said they have to catch it on him, They look at all the reports from the pawn shops and silver exchanges.

        The worker was the only one who had unlimited access to my apartment for several months. The landlord left before me for work and got home after me. He was not in the apartment. As I said before, the landlord did not change the locks. There was no evidence of a break in. The landlord did not take any steps to protect me from this. He lied to me about knowing this man for many years, it was only 5 days. He did not do a background check and led me to believe he was trustworthy. The worker has at least 3 criminal records.

        • Rod Kreinbrink

          Ok. Sounds like you have all the information. Now call an attorney who offers the free consultation. If you do not know who to call, then call the local bar association. Tell them your story, and they will give you a referral (usually at discount) for 1 hour or so at the specific attorneys that you should be talking to. I can not do it for you. Please take all the information that you can, including the criminal history of that worker to the attorneys office. You have to stand up for your rights, or no one else will. At lease you will know either way. Best Regards.

      • Sundae

        No, I can’t prove it. The police said they have to catch it on him, They look at all the reports from the pawn shops and silver exchanges. Unfortunately, this worker told me he knows that.

        The worker was the only one who had unlimited access to my apartment for several months. The landlord left before me for work and got home after me. He was not in the apartment. As I said before, the landlord did not change the locks. There was no evidence of a break in. The landlord did not take any steps to protect me from this. He lied to me about knowing this man for many years, it was only 5 days. He did not do a background check and led me to believe he was trustworthy. The worker has at least 3 criminal records.

  • John

    Hi,
    I am renting a room out of a house for about 4 months now. I got notice on the 15 of may that I have 45 days to leave because “the fit is just not right”. Which is fine enough. I found another place two weeks later and told the current landlord that I would be out around the 1st. Now she’s telling me that I’m responsible for the entire 45 days rent. I believe that once given notice I am allowed to leave at any point and am responsible only for the rent of the days that I occupied the residence. Could someone please confirm this. Thanks much

  • Annie

    I rent an Ohana and recently in the landlord started renting out a room in the garage or maybe it’s just the garage itself as a room and there’s no restroom there so he has made me Grant access to my bathroom to these random people and their friends who they have over at all hours and they have also been granted access to the unit when I’m not there resulting in items missing and so forth is there anything I can do is this legal

  • Jim

    We own a house and have a 1 year lease with the tenant. At the time of writing the lease, the tenant asked for an option 2-4 years at the end of the lease. We have a clause which says it must be by mutual agreement. We informed the tenant that we are selling the house and will not be renewing the lease. The tenant indicates he has a legal right to the option and is informing us he is staying. The lease ends on a specific date, we’ve provided him with 6 months notice the we will not be renewing the lease. Today, 3 weeks after they were notified, sent an email of “excercising my legal right for excerising an additional year option.” The tenant believes this is their sole right and not the owners. Thoughts?

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