Warranty of Habitability in Hawaii

Last Updated: April 15, 2023 by Elizabeth Souza

In Hawai’i, a landlord’s obligation for providing a habitable living space is primarily governed by HRS § 521-42. This legal requirement, commonly known as the “implied warranty of habitability”, also outlines the rights of tenants when repairs are not made in a timely manner.

Quick Facts Answer
Landlord Responsibilities Plumbing & Electrical
Time Limit for Repairs 3-12 Business Days
Tenant Recourse Options
  • Withhold Rent: Rent Escrow Only
  • Repair & Deduct: Yes, no more than $500/mo

Applicable Dwelling Types in Hawai’i

The implied warranty of habitability in Hawai’i does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are and aren’t included.

Dwelling Type Landlord/Tenant Laws Apply?
Single family Yes
Multi-family Yes
Fraternities/Sororities/Clubs No
RV parks Not specifically addressed
Mobile home parks Not specifically addressed
Condos Yes
Hotels/Motels No

Landlord Responsibilities in Hawai’i

The following chart lists possible landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability.  Not all of them are requirements in Hawai’i, as indicated below.

Note: Some of the below items may not be addressed at the state level but may be addressed on a county or city level. Check your local housing codes to see which additional requirements may apply.

Habitability Issue Landlord Responsibility?
Provide windows and doors that are in good repair. Not specifically addressed
Ensure the roof, walls, etc., are completely waterproofed and there are no leaks. Not specifically addressed
Provide hot and cold running water. Multi-family units only or where permissible by law
Provide working HVAC equipment. Not specifically addressed
Provide working plumbing and electrical wiring/outlets/ lighting. Yes
Provide working gas lines if used for utilities/cooking Not specifically addressed
Provide working sanitation facilities (bathtub/shower, toilet). If provided, must be in good working order
Provide a trash can (for trash pickup services). Multi-family units only
Ensure that any stairs and railings are safe. Not specifically addressed
Ensure that all floors are in good condition and safe. Not specifically addressed
Provide fire exits that are usable, safe, and clean. Not specifically addressed
Ensure storage areas, including garages and basements, do not house combustible materials. Not specifically addressed
Provide working smoke detectors Yes
Provide a mailbox. No
Provide working wiring for one telephone jack. Not specifically addressed
Provide working kitchen appliances. No
Provide working carbon monoxide detector. Yes
Provide a working washer/dryer. No

A landlord is obligated to comply with all building and housing laws materially affecting the health and safety of others and shall make all necessary repairs to keep the dwelling unit in a habitable condition. Landlords must also keep all common areas of a multi-dwelling unit in a clean and safe condition.

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Repairs, Recourse & Retaliation in Hawai’i

If a rental property is in violation of the implied warranty of habitability in Hawai’i, state laws outline how the repair process works, what tenants can do if repairs aren’t made, and how tenants are protected against retaliating landlords.

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.

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

Hawai’i landlords usually have 12 business days to begin good-faith repairs after receiving a written repair notice, and must complete repairs as quickly as possible. For some serious issues, they may have to begin repairs within three business days, or complete repairs within one week.

If the issue isn’t fixed, the renter could cancel the lease, repair and deduct, or ask a court to order repairs or compensation. However, renters are not allowed to unilaterally withhold rent payments. Read More

Landlord Retaliation in Hawai’i

Hawai’i landlords can’t retaliate with raised rent, reduced services, or threatened eviction against tenants who are current on rent and have taken one of these protected actions:

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

There’s an exception in Hawai’i law for non-retaliatory, good-faith motivations. For example, a proportionate increase in rent following an increase in property tax isn’t retaliation.

Tenants can respond to retaliation by seeking an injunction against the landlord. Tenants can also recover costs (including court and attorney fees) if the landlord’s actions dispossessed them.