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Hawaii Property Management Laws

Property management is a complex industry and rules vary between states and localities. If you manage properties in different states or have recently moved, it can be a confusing task to find the statutes that apply to your situation. Having a baseline understanding of the laws and procedures that govern the processes of property management can help you understand your rights as either a tenant or a landlord.

This guide was written to help direct you to real estate and property management statutes in Hawaii to help tenants and property managers figure out what actions they can take to handle their housing issues.

Key Points

  • 1 There are many complex statutes in Hawaii that outline what a landlord can and cannot do. Experienced property managers can help figure out the best course of action for any problem.
  • 2 Tenants must have access to a property manager who resides on the same island as their house — landlords can appoint an authorized representative that resides on the island to serve them.
  • 3 Security deposits in Hawaii must not be higher than one month’s rent.
  • 4 Property managers in Hawaii must hold a valid real estate broker or sales associate license.

Note: This guide is intended to be used as an educational resource. The contents within do not constitute legal advice. To obtain information regarding property management laws in your state, consult a local attorney. This guide is based only on property management laws at the state level. Local county and city laws may exist that are not discussed in this guide. Consult a local attorney to obtain information that pertains to your specific location and situation.

Property Management Laws Overview in Hawaii

Code Description
Rental Application Laws
521-44 Security Deposit Laws
522-21 Lease and Termination Laws
521-21 Rent and Late Fee Laws
521-43 Disclosure Laws
521-41 Landlord Responsibility Laws
521-42 Property Maintenance and Repair Laws

Rental Application Laws

What application fees are allowed? 

Landlords may charge a fee to process a rental application, but there are no statutes in Hawaii that specify the specific information that can be screened or how much can be charged.

What can a landlord look for in a background check?

Hawaii statutes don’t regulate the processing of background checks, but consent is required before running any background screening. Landlords typically check for information including:

  • Rental history
  • Criminal background
  • Credit score and accounts owed to property management companies
  • Employment information

Are there any laws that cover who landlords can refuse to rent to?

Federal laws under the Fair Housing Act dictate that it is illegal to discriminate against anybody based on their religion, nationality, color, gender, family status or sexuality. 

Security Deposit Laws

Are additional move-in fees allowed? 

A security deposit may be requested by the landlord before a tenant may move in (521.44.1). Additionally, a pet deposit may be required if the tenant wishes to move an animal into their rental (521.44.5.b) unless it is a service animal.

Is there a limit on the security deposit amount that can be charged? 

According to statute 521.44.2, the security deposit may not exceed the cost of one month’s rent.

Does the landlord have to hold the security deposit in a specific way during occupancy? 

There is no statute in Hawaii that specifies the way a landlord must keep security deposits. It is generally advisable (and many states require) owners have a separate bank account to ensure deposits are always available in the event a tenancy ends and the deposit needs to be returned or used for repairs.

How long does the landlord have to return the security deposit after move out?

If the landlord wants to keep any portion of the deposit, they must notify the tenant in writing within 14 days from the date the tenancy was terminated or relinquish the entire deposit (521.44.2.c). 

What are the reasons why a landlord can withhold part or all of the security deposit? 

Statute 521.44 states that the security deposit is designed to remedy tenant-caused damages to the premises, keys not returned and rent or utility charges not included in the lease paid to the owner that were left unpaid when the tenant moved. 

What is the penalty if the landlord doesn’t return the security deposit? 

Tenants have one year from the date their tenancy was terminated to attempt to recover their security deposits that weren’t returned by the landlord (521.44.2.c). If it is determined in small claims court that the landlord willingly withheld the security deposit, the tenant may be awarded three times the amount of the original security deposit (521.44.h.1).

Laws About Leases and Lease Termination

What types of lease terms are allowed? 

Lease terms are defined as the agreed-upon length that is written in the lease and signed by the tenant and landlord. If there is not a lease that specifies the length of time a renter will maintain possession of the residency, all leases will be treated as a month-to-month contract, except in the case of weekly boarders where leases are on a weekly basis (521-22).

What happens if the tenant violates the lease? 

Depending on the type of violation, a tenant may be given a warning with a period of time to correct the problem and ultimately served with an eviction notice. If a tenant is in material violation of the lease, the landlord can send a 10-day notice (521.72) giving the tenant the opportunity to rectify the problem, unless the damage was done to a person or violates statute 521.51.1 or 521.51.6 — in this event, there is no notice needed. If the problem recurs, a 30-day notice to quit can be sent to the tenant with no further opportunity for rectification. If the tenant owes rent after the first of the month, the landlord may send a notice to quit the tenancy after a five-day period (521.68). 

What happens if a tenant refuses to leave after being evicted?

In the event that a tenant is evicted and they refuse to return the property to the owner, they will be liable for payment of twice the monthly rent for every month they stay as a “holdover tenant” (521.71.e). If the tenant is in holdover for 60 days, the lease will resume on the 60th day at the normal, previous monthly rate.

How much notice is required for a month-to-month lease termination? 

If a monthly lease is signed and a landlord has a desire to end the tenancy, they must provide written notice no less than 45 days (521.71.a) prior to the end of the lease. If a tenant wishes to break the lease, they must provide 28 days’ notice (521.71.b).

When can a tenant terminate a term lease without penalty? 

If a tenant is on a monthly lease, they must give a 28-day notice to landlords and will need to pay rent for each day until the 28th day of the notice, whether or not they stay on the premises. Tenants in properties that must be evacuated due to fire or casualty damages can quit their lease immediately (521.65) and provide the landlord with written notice within one week or be held liable for rental fees.

How much notice do service members have to supply before terminating the lease? 

Federal protections protect active-duty service members from paying penalties if they have to break their lease because of a change in base or a deployment. The lease must have been signed before the tenant was called for active duty to qualify for this protection. 

Are there special lease termination rules for victims of domestic violence? 

If a person under the lease is a victim of domestic violence and needs to move to protect themselves, they may break the lease with no penalty. The incident must have occurred within the 90 days before serving notice to the landlord. The tenant must give at least 14 days’ notice with a copy of their restraining order or other court document verifying the abuse (521.80). If the tenant does not wish to move, they can request that the landlord change the locks within three days at the tenant’s expense (521.81), unless the offender is a tenant and is not under a court order to leave. If the offender is also a resident and has a court order requiring them to leave the premises, the landlord should not provide them with keys or allow them on the premises without a peace officer and must refund them any owed prepaid rents or security deposits due to the evicted tenant (521.82).

How and when can a landlord evict a tenant? 

There are several instances in which case a landlord may evict a tenant, including:

  • Non-payment of rent, in which case the tenant has the right to a five-day notice to remedy the situation by paying rent dues (521.68). 
  • If a tenant is in violation of health and safety codes or behaves in a way that damages the property, they are subject to eviction with a 10-day notice (521.69). 
  • Any violation against the safety of another person on the premises or irreparable damage to the property is grounds for eviction with no notice. If a tenant is unable to be served notice, it may be posted in a public area (521.69.c).
  • Tenants using the property for any purpose aside from residency are in violation of their lease (521.72) and can be given a 10-day notice.
  • Abandonment of the property (521.70) is a cause for eviction. 

How much notice does a landlord have to give before making changes to the property that result in the termination of tenancy? 

If a landlord chooses to demolish or renovate a building in such a way that the tenants would be forced to move, such as by turning it into a condominium, they must provide at least 120 days’ notice (521.71.c). Tenants are free to move at any point during this time and pay only prorated rent for the days they occupy the building, but they must provide written notice to the landlord of their intended move-out day. If a landlord wants to change their decision to make changes to the property, they must provide a statement of this intent to the tenant in writing. If this notice changes the previously stated plan in any way, the 120 days’ notice restarts on the day that notice is sent. 

Laws About Rent and Late Fees

When can a landlord increase rent? 

A landlord may increase the rent rate at any time but must provide advance notice to residents. For month-to-month leases, there is a minimum of 45 days (521.21.d) notice required before rent can be increased. If the lease length is less than 30 days, such as in a weekly lease at a boarding facility, residents have the right to 15 days’ notice before a rent increase (521.21.e).

Is there a maximum amount of rent that a landlord can charge tenants? 

The landlord and tenant agree upon the rent rate during the lease signing. There is no state cap on what a rent charge can be. If there is no lease signed, residents must pay the landlord fair market rate for their rental (512.21a).

Do landlords need to provide receipts for rent received? 

Yes, receipts must be furnished for every financial transaction (521.42.e) as well as a copy of the lease document if a lease is prepared (521.42.d).

Are there any areas in Hawaii with rent control?

Rent control is the practice of regulating the maximum amount charged for rent in an area depending on a percentage of the area’s median income. In Hawaii, it has been proposed to limit rent costs to 30% of the median area income in some areas, but these plans have yet to be initiated.

Is there a state-mandated grace period that landlords must give tenants before charging a late fee? 

Statute 521.21.b declares that rent is due at the time and place as agreed upon in the lease, which is usually the first of the month. If a tenant receives rental assistance, there is a three-day period that the landlord must wait for payment due to the checks being mailed on the first of the month. 

Is there a limit on how much of a late fee the landlord can charge tenants? 

There is no statute regarding the amount a landlord can charge as a late fee.

Legally Required Disclosures

What types of disclosures are landlords required to supply regarding ownership of the property? 

Landlords must disclose to renters the name and address of everyone who is authorized to manage the premises on behalf of the owner (521.43), any representative for the owner and the property owner themselves. Property owners must also provide tenants with their general excise tax number for income tax purposes (521.43.h).

How must a landlord supply the needed disclosures? 

Any disclosures related to the management of property must be individually delivered to each address, except in the case of multi-family buildings. Then, the notice must be placed in a conspicuous area (such as near the elevators or mailboxes) and must be kept current (521.43.g). If a manager fails to supply these disclosures, they may be subject to a $100 fine to be paid to the tenant plus reasonable attorney fees (521.67).

Can the owner designate an agent to serve and receive disclosures? 

Yes, but the property owner must designate an authorized representative who lives on the island where the property is located and must disclose this person’s name and address to the tenant (521.43.f). I

What disclosures related to mold are landlords required to supply? 

There are no required mold disclosure laws in Hawaii. However, it is expected for a landlord to maintain a safe and habitable environment (541.42), which would include ensuring there are no water leaks or missing insulation in the building that could lead to mold growth.

What disclosures related to lead paint are landlords required to supply?

Federal regulations through the EPA require that any buildings built before 1978 come with a completed lead disclosure that notes whether or not there is lead-based paint in the building. 

Laws About Landlord Responsibilities

How much notice does the landlord have to supply before entry? 

According to statute 521.53.b, a landlord may enter the residency after giving two days’ notice. The tenant, once given proper notice, may not restrict the landlord from entering the premises. The landlord may not enter the premises under any reason without giving this notice unless they believe the property to have been abandoned by the tenant, they are under court order (521.53.c) or there is an emergency in the property. Landlords are not permitted to use this right to harass the tenant and may only request entry during reasonable business hours.

When can the tenant refuse to allow the landlord entry? 

Tenants can refuse to allow landlords entry if the proper notice is not supplied or it is after or before reasonable business hours.

What steps must the landlord take to keep the property habitable?

Landlords must undertake all steps needed to maintain a fit and habitable residence (521.42.2) and follow all state and local building codes (521.42.1).

What amenities must the landlord supply and maintain? 

Landlords must provide access to working plumbing and electrical facilities, and appliances originally supplied must be maintained in good working condition (521.42.4).

What utilities must the landlord supply and maintain? 

Barring single-family residences or places not required by law to be provided water, a landlord must provide running water and waste removal services to tenants (521.42.6).

Does the landlord have to supply a certificate of inspection? 

There is no law specifying that a landlord must supply inspection certificates.

Is the landlord required to supply locks and keys? 

Statutes don’t outline the need for a landlord to provide a key, but it is required for a landlord to maintain a safe residency (521.42), which would imply locks, and Statute 521.44 requires tenants to return keys at the end of the tenancy or pay to replace the keys.

Are retaliatory actions prohibited?

Yes, laws explicitly state that a landlord is prohibited from raising rent prices or threatening eviction immediately after complaints against them to a housing or public health authority or a repair request. If a tenant has no written lease but continues to pay rent in a timely manner, they are protected by the same statutes (521.74).

Property Maintenance and Repair Laws

What type of maintenance is the landlord responsible for? 

The landlord is responsible for all maintenance of their properties (521.42).

How long does the landlord have to make repairs? 

Statute 521.64 dictates that landlords have five days to commence repairs upon notice from the public health authority or housing authority that repairs are required. 

What type of maintenance is the tenant responsible for? 

Tenants are required to keep all areas in their homes as clean as possible and to reasonably use all plumbing and electrical appliances to prevent excessive wear and tear (521.51).

Is the landlord responsible to fix damage caused by tenants? 

No, landlords can charge against a tenant’s security deposit for any needed repairs and cleaning after move-out (521.44).

When can a tenant request an official inspection to determine substandard or dangerous living conditions? 

A landlord is not described in the Landlord-Tenant act as required to supply an official inspection at any time, but tenants are always able to complain to the Hawaiian housing authorities, who can then come out and inspect the issue and offer suggestions to the landlord.

Under what circumstances can a tenant make a repair and deduct the cost from the rent paid to the landlord? 

If minor repairs are needed and the landlord is unavailable to respond to a maintenance request, a tenant may proceed with the repairs if they are less than $500 and bill the landlord with an itemized receipt of the work done (521.64). 

When is a landlord required to pay for relocation assistance?

No statutes detail a landlord needing to pay a tenant relocation assistance in Hawaii.

Additional Rental Law Resources for the State of Hawaii

These additional resources can help to educate tenants, landlords and property managers on the Landlord-Tenant Act in Hawaii, as well as direct landlords and tenants to housing and energy assistance programs.

Name Phone Number Description
Hawaii Public Housing Authority (808) 832-6040 Serves as a gateway to resources for low-income Hawaiians in the form of various rent subsidy programs.
Hawaii Housing and Urban Development (HUD) (800) 955-2232 Offers tenants education regarding their rights as renters, as well as resources to legal assistance with renter issues.
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) (808) 586-5734 LIHEAP provides low-income residents with one-time payments towards their utility bills. This program is available once per the calendar year and does not always have funds available.
Housing Discrimination Hotline (800) 669-9777 Educates renters on discrimination and general renters’ rights and takes complaints against property owners and management companies.
Hawaii Landlord-Tenant Handbook Complete list of statutes related to housing laws in Hawaii for landlords and tenants.

Note: This guide is intended to be used as an educational resource. The contents within do not constitute legal advice. To obtain information regarding property management laws in your state, consult a local attorney. This guide is based only on property management laws at the state level. Local county and city laws may exist that are not discussed in this guide. Consult a local attorney to obtain information that pertains to your specific location and situation.