In Hawaii, 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.
Applicable Dwelling Types in Hawaii
The implied warranty of habitability in Hawaii 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?|
|RV parks||Not specifically addressed|
|Mobile home parks||Not specifically addressed|
Landlord Responsibilities in Hawaii
The following chart lists possible landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability. Not all of them are requirements in Hawaii, 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 permittable 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||Not specifically addressed|
|Provide a mailbox.||No|
|Provide working wiring for one telephone jack.||Not specifically addressed|
|Provide working kitchen appliances.||No|
|Provide working carbon monoxide detector.||Not specifically addressed|
|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. Landlord’s must also keep all common areas of a multi-dwelling unit in a clean and safe condition.
Tenant’s Right to Repairs in Hawaii
Tenants may request emergency repairs orally or in writing.
- Sending Notice – Upon receipt of the notice by the tenant, the landlord must make the repairs within three days. If a government agency requires the repairs, the landlord has five days to make them.
- Landlord Access – Tenants are required to give the landlord access to the property to inspect or make necessary repairs. However, a landlord must give tenants at least two days’ notice, unless there’s an emergency, a court order, or the tenant has abandoned the unit.
Tenant’s Options if Repairs Aren’t Made in Hawaii
If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, the tenant has a few possible options for resolving the issue.
- Withhold Rent – Hawaii tenants are legally allowed to withhold rent until repairs are made.
- Repair and Deduct – Tenants have the right to repair and deduct to fix major defects that render the unit unsafe or unfit for habitation. Tenants may immediately hire someone to do the repairs or do the work themselves in a competent manner. A tenant must show the receipts to the landlord and the landlord may deduct no more than $500 from the tenant’s rent.
- Lawsuit – Tenants do have the right to take legal action for damages resulting from habitability issues.
- Reporting to Public Officials – Tenants can report their landlord to housing inspectors if they are found to be in violation of any local housing codes.
Landlord Retaliation in Hawaii
Hawaii state law does not allow landlords to retaliate against tenants. It is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant in Hawaii who has exercised a legal right, including:
- Complaining about unsafe or illegal living conditions to the landlord or a government authority.
- Withholding rent.
- Exercising a legal right allowed by your state or local law for an uninhabitable unit.
If the tenant has requested repairs, landlord may not take any retaliatory acts such as:
- Recovering possession of the unit.
- Increasing rent.
- Decreasing services.
- Evicting the tenant.
- Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, “Handbook for the Hawaii Residential Landlord-Tenant Code.”
- Hawaii Revised Statutes, Title 28, Chapter 521, Residential Landlord-Tenant Code.
- Hawaii Landlord -Tenant Law: Glossary of Legal Terms
- Handbook for the Hawaii Residential Landlord-Tenant Code