Hawaii Security Deposit Returns and Deductions

Hawaii Security Deposit Returns and Deductions

Last Updated: January 22, 2024 by Phil Ahn

Quick Facts Answer
Acceptable Deductions Unpaid rent, utilities and late fees

Costs of damage

Costs of early termination

Cleaning costs

Failure to return keys

Return Deadline 14 days
Itemized Deductions Required
Max. Penalty for Late Return Full Deposit + 3x Amount Due + Court Costs

For laws on security deposit collections and holdings in Hawaii, click here.

Security Deposit Deductions in Hawaii

In Hawaii, the following can be deducted from security deposits:

  • Unpaid rent, utilities, and late fees
  • Costs of damage excluding normal wear and tear
  • Costs of damage due to early termination of the lease
  • Cleaning costs
  • Failure to return keys (including key fobs, garage door openers, etc.)

Most states, such as Hawaii, do not have a legal limit on how much a landlord can charge for damages except that the charges must be reasonable.

If the cost of the damages exceeds the amount of the security deposit, landlords are entitled to seek additional damages from the former tenant.

What is Considered Normal Wear and Tear in Hawaii?

Hawaii defines “Normal Wear and Tear” as “deterioration or depreciation in value by ordinary and reasonable use but does not include items that are missing from the dwelling unit.”

Examples include:

  • Lightly scratched glass
  • Faded flooring
  • Lightly dirtied grout
  • Loose door handles
  • Stained bath fixtures

Damage” is not defined by Hawaii state law, but is generally understood to mean destruction to the rental unit that occurs because of abuse or negligence by a tenant.

Examples include:

  • Heavily stained, burned, or torn carpets
  • Broken tiles or windows
  • Holes in the wall
  • Missing fixtures

Can the Landlord Charge for Replacing the Carpet in Hawaii?

Landlord can charge for replacing the carpet if it is damaged beyond normal wear and tear.


A carpet that is slightly discolored or gently worn will be considered normal wear and tear. A carpet with visible stains, major discoloration and rips will be considered excessively damaged.

Can the Landlord Charge for Nail Holes in Hawaii?

Landlords in Hawaii can charge a tenant for nail holes if they damage the walls in a way that is not a result of ordinary enjoyment of the rental unit.

Tenants have the right to use the walls within their unit in a reasonable way. This includes inserting small nails or thumbtacks to hang posters or pictures.

However, large holes from drilling, multiple nail holes, large nail holes, and holes made for hanging heavier things may be considered damage and thus, chargeable to the tenant.

Can the Landlord Charge a Cleaning Fee in Hawaii?

Hawaii law allows landlords to charge for reasonable cleaning costs limited to bringing the unit back to its original condition at the start of the lease.

Can the Landlord Charge for Painting in Hawaii?

Landlords can charge for painting, except for normal wear and tear. For example, if the tenant:

  • Causes damage beyond normal wear and tear
  • Repaints the wall but is not permitted to do so under the lease agreement
  • Repaints the wall in an unprofessional way

Normal wear includes:

  • Minor scrapes from daily use
  • Fading due to sunlight
  • Minor cracks in the original paint

Landlords can charge for repainting if the damage is not the result of normal use. This includes stains, large or deep scratches, and water damage.

Security Deposit Returns in Hawaii

Landlords must return a security deposit by mail within 14 days after the lease term ends. If the landlord intends to make deductions, they must include an itemized statement of deductions.

How Long Do Landlords Have to Return Security Deposits in Hawaii?

Hawaii landlords have 14 days after the lease term ends to return any unused portion of the security deposit. Landlords comply with this requirement if the mailing is postmarked or acknowledged by the tenant within the 14-day period.

Do Landlords Owe Interest on Security Deposits in Hawaii?

Unlike in some states, such as New Jersey, landlords in Hawaii do not owe interest on security deposits.

How Do Landlords Give Notice in Hawaii?

Written notice must be mailed with a return receipt requested to the address provided by the tenant and must include the amount of the security deposit due, if any, to the tenant, plus an itemized statement of deductions. The notice must include evidence of the costs of repair, such as invoices, receipts, etc.

If a landlord fails to comply within the 14-day period, they lose the right to make deductions from the security deposit.

However, landlords are not required to provide an itemized statement of deductions if the tenant terminated the lease agreement early. Furthermore, if a tenant abandons the rental unit for 20 days or longer without notifying the landlord or paying rent, the landlord can keep the entire security deposit.

Can a Security Deposit Be Used for Last Month’s Rent in Hawaii?

Hawaii law does not forbid the security deposit from being used for any outstanding rent.

Landlords can include a provision in the lease agreement that the security deposit cannot be used for the last month’s rent until the tenant vacates the rental unit.

Security Deposit Disputes in Hawaii

If landlords do not return the security deposit within the 14-day period, tenants can file for the return of the full security deposit plus damages in court up to three times the amount wrongfully withheld plus court costs.

If the court determines that the act of the landlord was unintentional, they may only award damages up to the amount of the deposit wrongfully withheld.

Tenants can also take legal action against a landlord for:

  • Failure to provide an itemized statement when deductions are made
  • Unreasonable deductions

How Can Tenants File a Dispute for a Security Deposit in Hawaii?

If a landlord fails to return the security deposit, the tenant can file a dispute in Small Claims Court if the amount of damages is less than $5,000. If the amount is greater, the tenant must file a regular civil case in the local District Court.