Hawaii Eviction Process

Hawaii Eviction Process

Last Updated: August 17, 2022 by Elizabeth Souza

Steps of the eviction process in Hawaii:

  1. Landlord serves tenant written notice.
  2. Landlord files complaint with court (if unresolved).
  3. Court serves tenant with summons & complaint.
  4. Court holds hearing and issues judgement.
  5. Writ of possession is issued.
  6. Possession of property is returned to landlord.

Evicting a tenant in Hawaii can take around one to four months, depending on the reason for the eviction and whether tenants file an answer and attend the hearing.

Questions? To chat with a Hawaii eviction attorney, click here

Grounds for an Eviction in Hawaii

In Hawaii, a landlord cannot legally evict a tenant without cause. Legal grounds to evict include not paying rent on time, staying after the lease ends, violating lease terms, demolition, condominium conversion, short-term conversion, and illegal activity. Even so, proper notice must first be given before ending the tenancy.

Grounds Notice Period Curable?
Nonpayment of Rent 15 Days Yes
End of / No Lease 45 Days No
Lease Violation ~10 Days Maybe
Change of Use of Building 120 Days No
Illegal Activity ~24 Hours Maybe

Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent

In Hawaii, a landlord can evict a tenant for not paying rent on time. To do so, they must first give 15 days’ notice to pay rent or vacate the premises. If the tenant does neither after that time, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.

Unless the lease states otherwise, rent is due at the beginning of each pay period and is considered late in Hawaii the day immediately after its due date. So for example, if rent is due on the first of the month, it is considered late starting on the second of the month (if not paid in full). There is no right to a legal grace period (i.e., five days) or exceptions for weekends or court-observed holidays.

Once rent is considered late, the landlord can begin the eviction process by serving the tenant with proper notice.

Eviction for No Lease or End of Lease

In Hawaii, a landlord can evict a tenant without a lease or with a lease that has ended (known as a “holdover tenant” or “tenant at will”). To do so, they must first terminate the tenancy by giving proper notice to move out (45 days for tenants that pay month-to-month).

Once the tenancy ends, if the tenant remains on the property, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.

Eviction for Violation of Lease Terms or Responsibilities

In Hawaii, a landlord can evict a tenant for violating the terms of their lease or not upholding their responsibilities under Hawaii landlord-tenant law. Some violations allow the tenant to fix (“cure”) the issue to avoid removal and other violations do not allow the tenant to fix the issue (“incurable”) and must vacate immediately.

If the issue is curable the landlord must give 10 days’ notice before proceeding with an eviction and if the issue is incurable the landlord may give tenants an unconditional notice to quit and immediately proceed with an eviction.

Tenant responsibilities include:

  • Keeping the unit in a clean and habitable condition.
  • Making small repairs and maintenance.
  • Keeping fixtures and appliances clean and sanitary.
  • Keeping all plumbing fixtures in the unit clean.
  • Not deliberately or negligently destroying the dwelling unit.
  • Not disturbing other tenants or neighbors.

Curable Violations

For more minor offenses, the tenant can remain at the property if they fix the issue within the 10-day notice period.

Examples of curable violations include:

  • Having an unauthorized pet, guest or vehicle.
  • Parking in an unauthorized area.
  • Not maintaining a certain level of cleanliness.

Incurable Violations

For more serious offenses, the tenant isn’t given the opportunity to fix the issue and remain at the property. For incurable violations, a landlord must provide an unconditional notice to quit and the tenant must vacate the premises immediately. The landlord may proceed with filing an eviction lawsuit.

Examples of incurable violations include:

  • Material health violations (i.e., committing waste).
  • Safety Violations (i.e., making major repairs that require a contractor).
  • Property damage (i.e., holes in the walls).

Eviction for Change of Use of the Building

In Hawaii, a landlord can evict a tenant if they want to change the use of the building.  To do so, they must first terminate the tenancy by giving 120 days’ notice to vacate the premises.

Changing the use of the building includes:

  • Demolition
  • Condominium conversion
  • Short-term rental conversion

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed and file an eviction lawsuit.

Eviction for Illegal Activity

In Hawaii, a landlord can evict a tenant for a common nuisance or an illegal activity. Some nuisances allow the tenant to fix (“cure”) the issue to avoid removal and other nuisances and illegal activity do not allow the tenant to fix the issue (“incurable”) and must vacate immediately.

Curable Nuisances/Illegal Activity

If the common nuisance is curable, the landlord must give 24 hours’ notice to correct the nuisance. If the common nuisance is not corrected within 24 hours, the landlord must provide tenants with a 5 days’ notice to vacate the premises.

For all other types of illegal activity that don’t endanger other tenants/rental property, and don’t constitute a common nuisance, tenants may be given a 10 days’ notice to correct the issue in order to avoid eviction.

Incurable Illegal Activity

For illegal activities that could cause “irremediable” harm to other tenants or the rental property, landlords are not required to give tenants time to correct the issue and may instead give tenants an unconditional notice to quit and must vacate the property immediately.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed and file an eviction lawsuit.

warning

Illegal Evictions in Hawaii

In Hawaii, any of the below is illegal. If found liable, the landlord could be required to pay the tenant damages sustained, the cost of suit and reasonable attorney’s fees.

“Self-Help” Evictions

No matter the situation, a landlord is not allowed to forcibly remove a tenant by:

  • Changing the locks.
  • Shutting off utilities.
  • Removing tenant belongings.

A tenant can only be legally removed with a court order obtained through the formal eviction process.

Retaliatory Evictions

It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant in response to exercising a legally protected right. These rights include:

  • Complaining about unsafe or illegal living conditions to the landlord, government authority, office of consumer protection, or the department of health.
  • Department of health or governmental agency filed a complaint of a health regulation or law.
  • Tenant has in good faith requested repairs to be made.

Eviction notice posted on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 1: Landlord Serves Notice to Tenant

A landlord can begin the eviction process in Hawaii by serving the tenant with written notice. The notice must be delivered by one of the following methods:

  1. Giving a copy to the tenant in person;
  2. Leaving a copy with someone who resides at the rental unit and they are of “suitable” age; or
  3. Posting a copy in a conspicuous place on the rental unit.

It is important for a landlord to always maintain a copy of the signed and served notice as proof of proper service of notice. 

15-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit

If a tenant is late on paying rent (full or partial) in Hawaii, the landlord can serve them a 15-Day Notice to Pay or Quit. This notice gives the tenant 15 calendar days to pay the entire remaining balance or vacate the premises.

45-Day Notice to Quit

For a tenant with no lease or a month-to-month lease in Hawaii, the landlord must serve them a 45-Day Notice to Quit to end the tenancy. This eviction notice allows the tenant 45 calendar days to move out.

However, for tenants that don’t pay monthly, the amount of notice differs:

Rent Payment Frequency Notice Amount
Week-to-Week 10 Days
Month-to-Month 45 Days

Note, if a landlord wants to terminate a month-to-month lease for a reason relating to changing the use of the building (i.e., demolition, condominium conversion or short-term rental conversion) the landlord must provide a 120 Day Notice to Quit to terminate the tenancy.

10-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate

In Hawaii, if a tenant commits a minor violation of the terms of their lease or legal responsibilities as a tenant, the landlord can serve them a 10-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate. This eviction notice gives the tenant 10 calendar days to fix the issue or move out.

Unconditional Notice to Quit

In Hawaii, if a tenant commits an irremediable illegal activity or commits a serious violation of the terms of their lease or legal responsibilities as a tenant, the landlord can serve them an Unconditional Notice to Quit. This eviction notice gives the tenant notice to move out immediately.

120-Day Notice to Quit

In Hawaii, if a landlord wants to change the rental unit into a short-term rental conversion, condominium conversion, or demolish the rental unit entirely, the landlord can serve them a 120-Day Notice to Quit. This eviction notice gives the tenant 120 calendar days to move out.

24-Hour Notice to Cure or Vacate

In Hawaii, if a tenant commits a common nuisance and is curable, the landlord must serve them a 24-Hour Notice to Cure or Vacate. This eviction notice gives the tenant 24 hours to fix the issue or move out.

5-Day Notice to Quit

In Hawaii, if the common nuisance is not corrected within 24 hours, the landlord must provide tenants with a 5-Day Notice to Quit and vacate the premises. This eviction notice gives the tenant 5 calendar days to move out.

10-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate

In Hawaii, if the tenant commits illegal activity that does not endanger other tenants/property, the landlord must provide tenants with a 10-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate. This eviction notice gives the tenant 10 calendar days to fix the issue or move out.

Questions? To chat with a Hawaii eviction attorney, click here

Eviction Complaint Filed on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 2: Landlord Files Lawsuit with Court

As the next step in the eviction process, Hawaii landlords must file a complaint in the appropriate court. In the state of Hawaii, the filing fee is $155.

The summons and complaint may be served on the tenant by the sheriff, the police chief, a party specifically appointed by the court to serve process, or by anyone over the age of 18 who isn’t part of the case through any one of the following methods:

  1. Giving a copy to the tenant in person;
  2. Leaving a copy with someone who resides at the rental unit; or
  3. Posting a copy in a conspicuous place on the rental unit.

Note that Hawaii landlords aren’t required to mail an additional copy of the summons and complaint if it’s posted on the rental unit.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.com A few days to a few weeks. Hawaii state law doesn’t address how quickly the summons must be issued after the complaint is filed.

Eviction Summons Complaint Served   on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 3: Court Serves Tenant with Summons & Complaint

Tenants in Hawaii are required to file an answer with the court 5 to 7 days after the date the summons was issued in order to appear at the hearing and state why they don’t feel they should be evicted.

If tenants fail to file an answer with the court, the judicial officer may issue a default judgment in favor of the landlord, meaning the tenant would have to move out and the eviction process will continue.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.com5 to 7 days. Tenants must file an answer to the complaint within five to seven days of the date the summons was issued.

Eviction Court Hearing on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 4: Court Holds Hearing & Issues Judgment

Hawaii state law doesn’t address how quickly the eviction hearing must be held after the complaint is filed or the tenant’s answer is received.

However, tenants who fail to appear for the eviction hearing will not be allowed to remain in the rental unit. The judicial officer will issue a default judgment in favor of the landlord and the eviction process will continue.

If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, either through a default judgment or at an eviction hearing, a writ of possession will be issued, and the eviction process will proceed.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.com A few days to a few weeks, depending on whether the tenant files an answer or appears for the hearing, and how busy the trial court’s hearing schedule is.

Eviction Writ of Possession on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 5: Writ of Possession Is Issued

The writ of possession is the tenant’s final notice to leave the rental unit and gives the tenant the opportunity to remove their belongings before the sheriff, deputy sheriff, police officer, or other person authorized by the rules of the court comes to the premises and forcibly removes them.

If the court has ruled in the landlord’s favor, the landlord will ask the court to issue a writ of possession. Hawaii state law doesn’t specify how quickly the writ must be issued; however, once the writ is issued the rental agreement is deemed annulled and cancelled.

If the tenant remains in the rental unit after the writ is issued, possession of the rental unit will be forcibly returned to the landlord.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.com A few hours to a few days. The landlord must request the writ of possession, but it could be issued as quickly as a few hours after the hearing to several days later.

Eviction property possession returned on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 6: Possession of Property is Returned

Hawaii state law doesn’t specify how long officers have to enforce the writ of possession once it has been received from the court.

If the tenant remains on the property after any grace period in the writ expires (if there is one), they will be forcibly removed from the rental unit.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.com A few hours to a few days, depending on how many other evictions are already scheduled.

Hawaii Eviction Process Timeline

In Hawaii, an eviction can be completed in 1 to 4 months but can take longer depending on the reason for eviction, whether the eviction is contested, which days courts are (or aren’t) in session and other various possible delays.

Below are the parts of the Hawaii eviction process outside the control of landlords for cases that go uncontested.

Step Estimated Time
Initial Notice Period 1-120 Calendar Days
Court Issuing Summons 3-21 Business Days
Court Serving Summons 3-21 Business Days
Tenant Response Period 5-7 Business Days
Court Ruling 3-21 Business Days
Court Serving Writ of Possession 1-3 Business Days
Final Notice Period 1-3 Business Days
Questions? To chat with a Hawaii eviction attorney, click here

Flowchart of Hawaii Eviction Process

Hawaii Eviction Process Flowchart on iPropertyManagement.com

For additional questions about the eviction process in Hawaii, please refer to the official legislation, Hawaii Revised Statutes §521-68 to 521-72, and §666-1 to 666-41, for more information.

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