Landlords should familiarize themselves with the statewide rules and procedures that govern evictions in the state of Hawaii and understand their responsibilities.
Quick Facts for Hawaii
- Grounds for Eviction: Failure to pay rent, lease agreement violations, illegal activity/creation of nuisance & remaining on property after lease termination
- Notice Required for Nonpayment of Rent: 5-Day Notice to Pay Rent
- Notice Required to Terminate without Cause: 10- & 45-Day Notice for weekly & month-to-month tenants, respectively
- Notice Required for Lease Violations: 10-Day Notice to Correct Issue (or vacate the premises)
- Fastest a Landlord Can Evict for Illegal Acts: For serious offenses, landlord may do away with giving notice and proceed to filing Complaint for Summary Possession in court
How Long Does it Take to Evict a Tenant in Hawaii?
The amount of time the eviction process will take in the state of Hawaii, like the eviction process in most states, is difficult to pinpoint. The eviction process is a multi-step process and the amount of time required for each step has its own variables.
As in most states, the Hawaiian landlord is first required to notify his tenant of his intention to seek an eviction. The amount of time required for this notice will depend upon the individual situation creating the landlord’s desire to evict the tenant. In rare instances, no notice is required. However, generally a minimum of a 5-Day Notice is required before a landlord may proceed by filing a Complaint for Summary Possession with the court.
Ultimately, the amount of time an eviction will take is dependent upon the tenant’s willingness to fight the eviction process and his/her understanding of the eviction process.
Reasons for Eviction in Hawaii
In the state of Hawaii, it is considered justifiable for a landlord to seek to evict a tenant for a variety of reasons. These reasons include:
- Failure to pay rent (H.R.S. 521-68)
- Violation of the lease or rental agreement (H.R.S. 521-52 & 521-72)
- Illegal activity or creation of a nuisance (H.R.S. 666-3, Nuisance defined Section 712-1270)
- Remaining on the property after the lease has been terminated
Eviction for Failure to Pay Rent
In Hawaii, a landlord may demand owed rent at any time after it is due and may present the tenant with a written 5-Day Notice to pay rent. If the rent is not paid, in full, by the date indicated on the notice, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Complaint for Summary Possession with the court.
Eviction if Rent has Been Paid
In the state of Hawaii, it is acceptable for a landlord to evict a tenant after the appropriate notice when there is no written lease. This may be done regardless of whether or not the rent has been paid in a timely fashion. If the tenant remains on the property past the time provided by the notice, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Complaint for Summary Possession with the court.
Evicting a Tenant For Violation of Rental Agreement/Lease
If a tenant violates the terms of a lease or rental agreement in the state of Hawaii, the landlord is required to provide them with a written 10-Day Notice to correct the issue or vacate the premises before proceeding with the eviction process. The notice may be served personally, left with another person, or posted on the door of the property. If the tenant fails to remedy the issue identified in the notice and remains on the property after the date indicated, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Complaint for Summary Possession with the court.
Evicting a Tenant for Illegal Behavior
The state of Hawaii has established regulations regarding a landlord’s ability to evict tenants who are engaged in illegal behavior and/or creating a nuisance. In such instances the landlord is generally required to provide the tenant with a 5-Day Notice to Quit. This notice does not provide the tenant the opportunity to correct the situation. However, if the tenant has threatened to cause serious damage to the rental property or another individual, the landlord is not required to provide any notice (H.R.S. 521-69). In such an instance the landlord may go directly to the court and file a Complaint for Summary Possession.
How Does a Landlord Evict a Tenant When There is no Lease?
In the state of Hawaii, the process for a landlord to evict a tenant where a lease is absent depends upon the type of rental agreement as well as the landlord’s future intentions for his/her property. If the tenant is a month-to-month renter, the landlord is generally required to provide a written 45-Day Notice (H.R.S. 521-71). However, it the landlord is considering demolishing the rental units, converting the property to condominiums, or converting the property to vacation rentals, a 120-Day Notice is required (H.R.S. 71)
In the instance of a week-to-week rental arrangement, the landlord may terminate the agreement with either a verbal or written 10-Day Notice. .
If the rental agreement is for a set-term, the landlord may not evict the tenant without cause until the end of the term of the rental (H.R.S. 521-7(e)).
If the tenant remains on the property beyond the amount of time indicated on a notice, he/she becomes known as a hold-over and may be held responsible for reimbursing the landlord twice the normal amount of rent. The amount owed to the landlord will be prorated for every day the hold-over remains on the rental property. The landlord may proceed with the eviction process by bringing suit against the hold-over at any time within 60 days. However, if the landlord fails to bring suit within this amount of time, a month-to-month rental agreement at the previous rental rate is considered to have been made.
When Can a Tenant Not Be Evicted in Hawaii?
In the state of Hawaii, it is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant for complaining to the Office of Consumer Protection, the health department, or any government agency associated with health requirements, or the landlord himself regarding conditions associated with the rental property. It is also illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant for the use of medical marijuana so long as the tenant has a valid certificate, unless the rental agreement also allows the landlord to evict tenants for smoking tobacco (H.R.S. 329-123).
When there is a fixed-term lease in place, a landlord in the state of Hawaii may not evict a tenant without cause until the end of the term established within the lease.
Once a Complaint for Summary Possession is Filed
Upon the filing of a Complaint for Summary Possession, the clerk of court will schedule the complaint for trial and issue a summons to the tenant.
There is some difference in how the eviction process proceeds if it takes place in Honolulu. In Honolulu, the tenant may be advised to appear in court five business days after the date of the complaint rather than there being a scheduled trial date.
In Hawaii, the first court appearance is referred to as the Answer Date. At this appearance, the tenant may contest the complaint filed against him/her or simply enter a General Denial Plea without providing a specific defense. This second option allows the tenant to extend the court process. When a General Denial Plea is entered in Honolulu, the court will schedule a Pre-trial Date for the next Monday. In all jurisdictions other than Honolulu, a trial date will be set between one day and two weeks from the Answer Date when a General Denial Plea is entered.
If the tenant fails to appear at the Answer Date, the court will likely enter a default judgement for the landlord. If the landlord fails to appear in court, the complaint will be dismissed.
Once Eviction Occurs
If the court rules for the landlord, regardless of whether this was done in default, the judge will issue a Writ of Possession. The court will also establish any costs that the tenant owes at this time. Law enforcement officers will help in removing the tenant. If the eviction was for failure to pay rent, the landlord may have a portion of the tenant’s wages garnished to satisfy the judgement.
Although rare, the tenant may request an appeal if he/she loses the eviction case. However, only fraud or new evidence will be sufficient in the state of Hawaii to overturn the judge’s ruling.
Any personal property left behind by the tenant will be stored at his/her cost. If left unclaimed, these items may be sold or donated. The landlord is required to provide a 15-Day Notice of his/her intention to sell or donate the tenant’s personal property before disposing of the items. Proceeds from the sale of these items will be used to pay for owed rent and the cost of removal and storage of these items. Any profit from the sale of this property must be held in trust for the tenant for 30 days. If left unclaimed, the proceeds from the sale of these items will be given to the landlord.
Make sure to read the Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 521-52, 521-56, 521-68–69 & 521-71–72 before starting the eviction process. Landlords should make sure to educate themselves on their rights and responsibilities on this topic.