Hawaii Rental Application Form

Last Updated: February 22, 2022 by Elizabeth Souza

The Hawaii rental application form is a document that landlords send out to a prospective tenant to help determine whether they are a desirable tenant. The information collected relates to rental history, eviction history, and financial information that helps determine the tenant’s eligibility.

Hawaii Laws on Rental Application Fees

In Hawaii, there is no limit or maximum rental application fee a landlord can charge a prospective tenant. It’s advised to not charge more than the average out-of-pocket expense, but ultimately the determination of the fee is at the sole discretion of the landlord.

According to Hawaii state law, landlords cannot charge a tenant a security deposit that is more than one month’s rent. There are no security deposit requirements for receipts or holdings.

What Hawaii Rental Application Forms Can’t Ask About

The Federal Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate against the following protected classes:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin (Nationality)
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial Status (having or not having children)
  • Disability (Physical or Mental)

Hawaii state laws add additional protections for the following classes:

  • Age
  • Ancestry
  • Marital Status
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Gender Identity
  • HIV Infection Status

Asking about any of these items on a rental application form (and/or using them to base an application decision on) is not illegal.

In Hawaii, the following exemptions are allowed:

  • Familial Status – it is acceptable to ask about and base an application decision on if children will occupy the rented premises in any two-family owner-occupied buildings.
  • Age– landlords may ask for an applicant’s age in the case of age-restricted communities such as senior housing. This federal exemption, known as the Housing for Older Persons Exemption, can apply to 55+ or even 62+ communities that meet federal requirements.
  • Owner Occupied Properties – dwellings with four units or less where one unit is occupied by the owner are exempt from Fair Housing Laws, unless a real estate agent represents the landlord. This is known as the Mrs. Murphy Exemption. However, race can never be a deciding factor (per the Civil Rights Act of 1866) and there cannot be any discriminatory advertisements to discourage applicants of a certain group.
  • Religious Organizations – certain applicants may be given priority for property that is owned, operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious organization that does not rent for commercial purposes. However, other protected classes may not be the basis for making a decision as a result of this exemption. 42 U.S. Code § 3607
  • Private Clubs – private clubs that operate without public access or commercial intent may give priority to applicants for lodgings owned or operated by the club. 42 U.S. Code § 3607, but may not consider race.

Federally, race is a non-exemption criteria that cannot have an influence when considering applicants. (Civil Rights Act of 1866)

Before a landlord can run a credit check based on the prospective tenant’s information on the submitted rental application, the Federal Credit Reporting Act requires that written consent must be given by the applicant. This written consent can be given via a statement of such and signature on the rental application form itself (like in our free template), or via a separate consent form (such as this one).

Processing a Rental Application

The next step in the tenant screening process is to use the information on the rental application form to conduct a background check:

  • Credit Check – subject to the tenant’s written consent, a credit check will either provide a simpler “pass/fail” report, or a full credit report including the tenant’s credit score and information about their income, employment, past addresses, credit inquiries and more.
  • Eviction Check – an eviction check aims to show the tenant’s history of eviction filings or judgments against them at any point in the last 7 years.
  • Criminal History Check – a criminal history check aims to show any records involving the tenant in state court criminal records or in databases such as the national sex offender public registry.

Eviction records in Hawaii can be accessed by the public. In addition to third-party software that collects the information a landlord may need; the state’s Judicial Court Directory provides an on-demand record requesting system.

To access eviction records:

  • Go to eCourt Kōkua.
  • Select “Civil/ Family/ Housing/ Small Claims Case’ under ‘Superior Court Case Look-up”.
  • Select the “Party Search” tab.
  • Enter the potential renter’s name to access civil court documents.
  • Select the Case ID to be taken to the details and docket. Documents available for download will be marked with a PDF icon.
  • To purchase a document, select the PDF icon, which will then prompt asking if you would like a regular or certified copy, and add your choice to your cart. Regular copies cost 10 cents per page or $3 per document, whichever is greater. Certified copies cost an additional $2.
  • After adding your document(s) to your cart, you’ll need to select the “View/Purchase Documents” tab and review your cart (visible in the “New Documents” section). The site will assign a purchase ID and ask for your contact information before you may continue to purchase.
  • After payment, you’ll be prompted to return to the home page by clicking continue. If you return to the “View/Purchase Documents” tab, your purchase will be available for viewing. You will need to enter the purchase ID and the email associated with the purchase. Note that you only have two calendar days to view and download your document(s).

Adverse Action Notices

If you acquire a consumer report for an applicant (i.e., credit, eviction or criminal history) and take an “adverse action” against them such as any of the following:

  • Rejecting the applicant
  • Requiring a co-signer (when they didn’t include one before)
  • Requiring a larger security deposit
  • Requiring higher rent

Then you are legally required to provide the tenant with a notice letter that includes certain details, known as an “adverse action notice”. This is required even if the consumer report’s information wasn’t the primary reason for the action.

The notice must include details about the consumer reporting agency, an explanation that they didn’t take the adverse action themselves (and can’t explain why it was made) and a statement on the applicant’s right to a copy of the report and to dispute its contents within 60 days. Additionally, when rejecting an applicant, it’s recommended to specify the reason (but not legally required).

For an example, see this tenant rejection letter template.