A landlord must follow specific rules and procedures when evicting a tenant in Hawaii. If the landlord does not carefully follow all the rules and procedures, the eviction might not be valid. This article will explain the basic rules and procedures landlords and property managers must follow when evicting a tenant in Hawaii.
If a landlord wants to evict a tenant before the tenant’s lease or rental agreement has expired, then the landlord must have legal cause. Hawaii law defines legal cause as failure to pay rent, violation of the lease or rental agreement, or serious damage to the rental unit or another person. To evict the tenant for one of these reasons, the landlord needs to terminate the tenancy. The landlord can terminate the tenancy by giving the tenant notice.
If a landlord wants a tenant to move but does not have legal cause to evict the tenant, then the landlord has to wait until the tenant’s lease or rental agreement has ended before expecting the tenant to move. The landlord will still need to give the tenant written notice to move in some cases.
If the landlord wants to end a month-to-month tenancy but does not have legal cause to evict the tenant, then the landlord must give the tenant a written 45-day notice. This notice must inform the tenant that the landlord is ending the month-to-month tenancy and that the tenant must move out of the rental unit by the end of 45 days. If the tenant does not move out of the rental unit in time, then the landlord can bring an eviction lawsuit against the tenant (see Haw. Rev. Stat. § 521-71). Hawaii Notice Requirements to Terminate a Month-to-Month Tenancy has more information.
If the landlord wants to end a fixed-term lease but does not have legal cause to evict the tenant, then the landlord must just wait until the lease has expired before expecting the tenant to move. The landlord does not need to give the tenant written notice to move unless the terms of the lease specifically require the landlord to do so. If the tenant does not move out of the rental unit by the end of the lease term, then the landlord should stop accepting rent payments from the tenant and file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant.
It is important to note that in Hawaii, the landlord only has 60 days after the lease term has ended to file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. If the landlord waits longer than 60 days, then the tenant will become a month-to-month tenant. The landlord will then have to give the tenant a 45-day notice to move before being able to proceed with the eviction (see Haw. Rev. Stat. § 521-71(e)).
Even if a landlord follows all the rules and has a valid legal cause to evict a tenant, the tenant might still decide to fight the eviction. The tenant could also have a valid legal defense, such as the landlord discriminating against the tenant or the landlord failing to maintain the rental unit. The tenant’s decision to fight the eviction could increase the cost of the eviction or allow the tenant more time to remain living in the rental unit. Tenant Defenses to Evictions in Hawaii has more information on this topic.
A landlord must never try to force a tenant to move out of a rental unit. Even after the landlord wins an eviction lawsuit against the tenant, the only person authorized to remove the tenant is a law enforcement officer with a court order. Hawaii has made it illegal for the landlord to ever try to remove the tenant or create a situation that forces the tenant to move out of the rental unit. Illegal Eviction Procedures in Hawaii has more information.
The tenant might leave personal property in the rental unit after the tenant is evicted. If the landlord believes the property has value, then the landlord must send the tenant written notice to claim the property before the landlord disposes of it. While waiting for the tenant’s response, the landlord can store the property and charge the cost of the storage to the tenant. The landlord must give the tenant 15 days to claim the property. If the tenant does not claim the property during that time, then the landlord can sell or donate the property (see Haw. Rev. Stat. § 521-56). Handling a Tenant’s Abandoned Property in Hawaii has more information for landlords who find themselves in this situation.
Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures required by Hawaii law when evicting a tenant; otherwise, the eviction may not be valid. Although these rules and procedures may seem burdensome to the landlord, they are there for a reason. Evictions often occur very quickly, and the end result is serious: the tenant has lost a place to live. The rules help ensure the eviction is justified and that the tenant has enough time to find a new home.