Hawaii Habitability Laws

Hawaii landlord-tenant law governs all related issues in the state. Read further to learn what landlords are responsible for providing and how long they have to make repairs. Learn how tenants should request maintenance and how habitability applies to damages and security deposits. 

Quick Facts for Hawaii

Who Does The Warranty of Habitability Apply To?

The Warranty of Habitability in Delaware applies to short-term and long-term rental properties that are single-family or multi-family dwellings. Condos are included. However, fraternity and sorority houses and hotels/motels are not covered under habitability laws.

How Long Do Tenants Have to Make Repairs?

10 days after being given written notice. Tenants may also have the cost of damages reduced from their security deposit if they are not fixed or paid for.>Landlords are not liable for damage caused by the tenant; landlords can charge tenants directly for any repairs due to the tenant’s actions.

What Are Tenants Responsible For?

Tenants are required to keep the rental reasonably clean; landlords can ask a tenant to clean up if they are not doing so.

What are Landlords Responsible For Providing?

Provide working plumbing and electrical wiring/outlets/lighting. Landlords are not required to provide a mailbox, working kitchen appliances, or working washers/dryers.

How Long Do Landlords Have to Fix Something?

After tenants request repairs, landlords must make them within 15 days. They must also provide 48-hour notice before entering the unit to make these repairs. Tenants can live in temporary housing until the landlord fixes a habitability issue.

Hawaii law governs all landlord/tenant issues in the state.  The following chart lays out which types of rental units the law applies to.


Quick Facts:
 

  • Tenants can deduct the costs of repairs they make from their monthly rent.
  • Landlords are not liable for damage caused by the tenant.
  • Landlords can charge tenants directly for any repairs due to the tenant’s actions.

Understanding the Law

In Hawaii, landlords are responsible for ensuring that any common areas of rented or leased multi-family properties are clean and safe. 

For all residential properties, landlords are required to ensure the property complies with any and all building codes and housing codes as they relate to the safety of the building and/or the health of the residents.

They’re also required to make and pay for any repairs to make the unit livable that are not caused by the tenant. 

Tenants are required to pay for any repairs caused by their own negligence or intentional acts, which may come out of the security deposit.

Rental agreements are not allowed to include any provisions that waive the tenant’s right to live in a habitable residence. 

Landlord Responsibilities

The following chart lists common landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability.  Not all of them are requirements in Hawaii, as indicated below.

Addressing Habitability Issues 

For any repairs the landlord makes due to the tenant’s actions, the landlord can:

  • Use the tenant’s security deposit to pay for any damage to the property when the tenant moves out.
  • Charge the tenant for the repair.
  • Terminate the rental agreement.

Under the law, tenants are allowed to have ten days to correct any issues noted as the reason for terminating the lease, including repairing any damage they have caused.

Tenant Repair Requests

Tenants may request emergency repairs orally or in writing.  The landlord will then have three days to make the repairs.

If a government agency requires the repairs, the landlord has five days to make them.

If the landlord fails to make the required repairs, the tenant has the right to:

  • Pay for the repairs and deduct up to $500 from the next month’s rent, or
  • If the repairs were required by a government agency, withhold a full month’s rent or $500, whichever is greater.

All other repair requests must be made in writing and the landlord has 12 days to complete the repairs.  Otherwise, a tenant can pay for the repairs and deduct up to $500 from the next month’s rent.

Landlord Access

Tenants are required to give the landlord access to the property to 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.

Retaliation

Retaliation against tenants for requesting repairs that affect habitability is illegal under Hawaii law.

Security Deposits and Repairs

Finally, if the costs for any repairs were taken out of the tenant’s security deposit, the landlord is required to provide estimates for repairs, or if repairs were already made, an itemized list of everything paid for from the deposit, including receipts, within 14 days of the lease’s termination. 

Otherwise, the landlord will be required to return the full amount of the security deposit.

Sources:

  1. Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, “Handbook for the Hawaii Residential Landlord-Tenant Code.”
  2. Hawaii Revised Statutes, Title 28, Chapter 521, Residential Landlord-Tenant Code.