This 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
- Haw. Rev. Stat. §521-1 – §521-78 – Residential Landlord-Tenant Code
- Haw. Rev. Stat. §666-1 – §666-21 – Landlord and Tenant
- Landlord-Tenant Handbook (PDF) – Hawaii.gov
- 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.
- 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)):
- The entire rent due for the remainder of the term; or
- 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:
- 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)
- sell such personalty, in a commercially reasonable manner,
- store such personalty at the tenant’s expense, or
- 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.
- Hawaii Small Claims Court
- Statute of Limitations
- Hawaii State Judiciary
- Landlord-Tenant Claims
- Hawaii Attorney General
- Hawaii State Bar Association
- Legal Aid:
- Business License Required: No statewide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local governing authority.
- [ HANDBOOK ] Landlord-Tenant Information (PDF) – Hawaii.gov
- What Should I Do if I Have a Landlord-Tenant Problem? – Hawaii.gov
- Landlord-Tenant Information – Hawaii.gov
- Information on the Rental of Residential Real Property (PDF) – State of Hawaii Department of Taxation
- Hawaii Insurance Division
- State of Hawaii Department of Consumer and Business Affairs
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Hawaii
- Hawaii Real Estate Branch
- REALTORS® Associations
- Real Estate Associations