Hawaii Renter’s Rights for Repairs

Hawaii Renter’s Rights for Repairs

Last Updated: April 15, 2023

Tenants in Hawai’i have the legal right to repairs for issues that place the property in violation of state health and safety standards. To exercise this right, they must properly notify the landlord in writing and allow 12 business days (three business days for utilities and major appliances) for the repairs to be made.

Hawai’i Landlord Responsibilities for Repairs

Hawai’i landlords are responsible for keeping all of the following in good working condition:

  • Plumbing
  • Electrical facilities
  • Supplied appliances
  • Common areas
  • Water (except in single-family residences)
  • Garbage containers and service (except in single-family residences)
  • Anything impacting health, safety, or habitability

If any of the above stops working properly, and the tenant isn’t at fault for the damage, the landlord is the one responsible for making the repairs necessary to fix it.

Read more

What Repairs Are Tenants Responsible for in Hawai’i?

Hawai’i tenants are responsible for repairing any damage they cause to the property beyond wear and tear from careful, reasonable use.

Requesting Repairs in Hawai’i

Hawai’i tenants must request repairs in writing, specifying the issue and listing all known items of landlord noncompliance. The landlord has no obligation to repair anything that the tenant reasonably could have known about but didn’t mention, for six months after any repair request.

How Long Does a Landlord Have To Make Repairs in Hawai’i?

Hawai’i landlords typically have 12 business days to make needed repairs after getting a written request. This is reduced to one week for substantial habitability issues, and three business days for issues that relate to essential utilities or major appliances (for example, if a provided refrigerator breaks down).

Can the Landlord Refuse To Make Repairs in Hawai’i?

Hawai’i landlords can refuse to repair in some cases. Rent nonpayment is not one of these cases. Primarily, the landlord can refuse to repair most issues that weren’t mentioned in a repair notice, for six months after that notice.

Do Landlords Have To Pay for Alternative Accommodation During Repairs in Hawai’i?

Hawai’i landlords have no requirement to pay for alternative accommodation while they conduct repairs. However, a tenant can cancel the rental agreement for any condition that displaces the tenant from the property for more than a week, so there’s a strong legal incentive for landlords to accommodate during extended repairs.

Tenant’s Rights if Repairs Aren’t Made in Hawai’i

Hawai’i tenants, depending on the situation, can cancel the rental agreement if the landlord doesn’t make timely repairs. They can also sue for damages, get an injunction to force repairs, or repair and deduct.

Can the Tenant Withhold Rent in Hawai’i?

Hawai’i tenants can’t unilaterally withhold rent. Some rent deduction is allowed for particular repairs, and in some cases a tenant can request to pay rent into a court-approved fund rather than to the landlord, but stopping rent payment entirely is never allowed for any reason.

Can the Tenant Repair and Deduct in Hawai’i?

Hawai’i tenants can repair and deduct the cost from rent, when repairs haven’t begun after the allowed time (usually 12 days). The deductible amount is $500 per month, totaling up to three month’s rent per six-month period.

Can the Tenant Break Their Lease in Hawai’i?

Hawai’i tenants can break the lease for major habitability or safety issues, or situations which substantially prevent the intended use of the property, where the landlord hasn’t finished repairs within one week. There’s a one-week written notice notice requirement for this process, waived for immediate danger or total uninhabitability.

Can the Tenant Sue in Hawai’i?

Hawai’i tenants can sue to force repairs or recover monetary damages, when the landlord doesn’t make timely repairs.

Can the Tenant Report the Landlord in Hawai’i?

Hawai’i tenants can report landlords to the local inspections or code enforcement department for code violations that affect health or safety. Tenants can also report these issues to the office of consumer protection, which also has the power to help with more general violations of a rental agreement.

Read more

Landlord Retaliation in Hawai’i

It’s illegal for Hawai’i landlords to retaliate with raised rent, reduced services, or threatened eviction against tenants who are current on rent (even with an expired lease) and have taken one of the following protected actions:

  • Reporting health and safety violations.
  • Complaining to the landlord about maintenance.
  • Receiving a notice of violation from a government agency.

The law allows an exception when the landlord can prove a non-retaliatory, good-faith reason for the alleged retaliatory action. For example, a landlord who raises rent proportionately in response to a large increase in property tax is not retaliating, even if a tenant has recently complained about maintenance.

Read more