Guidance for Homeowners & Renters

The Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) is providing answers to the following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) to assist homeowners and renters and with inquiries regarding the Landlord-Tenant code.

This FAQ along with more information regarding the Hawai‘i Landlord-Tenant code is available at https://cca.hawaii.gov/ocp/landlordtenant/.

Landlord Tenant FAQs

Governor David Ige’s recent emergency proclamations concerning the coronavirus invoked special legal requirements applicable to Landlords and Tenants in Hawai‘i.  

The Office of Consumer Protection has created FAQs pertaining to how these provisions impact their legal relationship.  The guidance provided is current as of March 31, 2020 and may be subject to change per actions taken at the state and/or federal level.

I’m current on my rent, but my Landlord has informed me that I must vacate; can they do this?

No. Unless there is a material breach of the lease or the premises are unfit for occupancy, a Landlord cannot currently require you to move. Governor David Ige’s State of Emergency Proclamation(s) automatically activates the provisions of section 127A-30(2) of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, which states, that “no Landlord shall terminate any tenancy for a residential dwelling unit in the area that is the subject of the proclamation…except for a breach of a material term of a rental agreement or lease, or if the unit is unfit for occupancy”. 

How long will the special provisions of section 127A-30(2) remain in effect?

A state of emergency terminates automatically sixty days after the issuance of a proclamation of a state of emergency or by a separate proclamation of the governor, whichever occurs first. The date of termination may be extended by a new proclamation.

Do I still have to pay my rent?

Yes. You are still legally obligated to pay your rent.

What if I can’t pay my rent?

You should inform your Landlord if you are unable to pay your rent and explain why. Renters are advised to contact their landlords as soon as they can to talk through delayed or partial payment options.

Can the Landlord evict me if I don’t pay my rent?

Currently, the Hawaii Judiciary has issued several orders that impact the ability of Landlords and their agents to use legal process to evict a Tenant for non-payment of rent. The Judiciary has stated that legal proceedings relating to summary possession or eviction have been postponed to at least April 30, 2020. What this means is that absent extraordinary circumstances, no eviction orders will be issued until at least after April 30, 2020.

I have already been served with an eviction notice; can I be evicted?

If the eviction notice was validly issued by the court you may be subject to an eviction, however, the Sheriff’s Division of the Department of Public Safety, which often assists Landlords with the lawful removal of Tenants and their possessions, has stated that it will not be assisting anyone in the eviction process until further notice.

What if I have a Tenant who is dangerous, or is engaging in illegal activity?

Under these circumstances, a Landlord may go to court to seek relief, including petitioning the court for an order allowing for the lawful removal of the Tenant.

How do I go to court to try to get a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)?

Petitions for Temporary Restraining Orders may be filed at the State District Court Courthouse.
Please see the following link for information related to the district court in your jurisdiction: https://cca.hawaii.gov/ocp/files/2020/03/Courthouses-Info-3.30.2020.pdf

Are the provisions of the Landlord Tenant Code still in effect?

Thus far, the Landlord Tenant Code has not been suspended by any of the Proclamations issued by the Governor.

Can a Landlord raise my rent?

No. Pursuant to section 127A-30 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes a Landlord is prohibited from increasing rent during the period of the state of emergency declared by the Governor.

Is a notice to increase rent before the issuance of the Proclamation still valid?

In the case of a residential dwelling unit, if rent increases were contained in a written instrument, such as, a lease, that was signed by the Tenant prior to the Proclamation, the increases may take place pursuant to the written instrument.

What if my rental is subject to a federal housing program?

These rentals are subject to federal jurisdiction.

Until July 26, 2020, property owners are prohibited from filing for eviction against or charging any fees for unpaid rent and fees to a tenant in properties with federally guaranteed loans or participating in federal housing programs.  Property owners must also issue a notice to tenants to vacate 30 days before an eviction and the notice to vacate cannot be issued during this 120-day period.

This protection covers properties that receive federal subsidies such as public housing, Section 8 assistance, USDA rural housing programs, and Low Income Housing Tax Credits, as well as properties that have a mortgage issued or guaranteed by a federal agency (including FHA and USDA) or Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Additionally, owners of multifamily buildings with federal loans in forbearance may not evict tenants for unpaid rent or charge late fees or penalties until the loan exits forbearance.

Renters seeking information on whether they are covered by the moratorium should contact Legal Aid Society of Hawaii or a HUD approved housing counselor.  You can find the nearest housing counselor here https://www.consumerfinance.gov/find-a-housing-counselor/ or by calling (800) 569-4287.

Inadequate Housing in Hawaii Plays a Large Role in Unnecessary Hospitalizations

Homelessness and inadequate housing are major causes of unnecessary hospitalizations, according to a study by University of Hawai‘i researchers.

The finding is from an ongoing project to understand and reduce potentially preventable hospitalizations for diabetes and heart disease in Hawaiʻi under Principal Investigator Tetine Sentell, an associate professor in the UH Office of Public Health Studies. Said Sentell, “We were interested in patient perspectives on the role of housing as contributing to their potentially preventable hospitalization.”

Tetine Sentell and Michelle Quensell

Reported lead author of the study, Michelle Quensell, a UH public health graduate, “We talked to 90 patients, and almost 25% reported a housing-related issue as a major factor in hospitalization. About half of these patients were homeless, noting the high cost of housing in Hawai‘i.”

Added Sentell, “Patients said it was hard to care for their diabetes or heart disease when they were living without amenities such as refrigeration, running water, a stove or a safe place to store medications. Patients also mentioned the challenges of following diet plans when canned goods were the only available foods at the shelters and food banks.”

Several major health providers in Hawaiʻi have recently created innovative new programs to address social determinants, including housing, within the health-care setting to improve health-care quality and reduce health-care costs. This research strongly supports these efforts.

Quensell is a 2015 graduate of the Health Policy and Management programs within Public Health. Other investigators included Kathryn Braun from Public Health; Deborah Taira at the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, University of Hawai’i at Hilo; and Todd Seto at the Queen’s Medical Center.

For more information, visit: http://manoa.hawaii.edu/publichealth/

American Indians and Native Hawaiians Mortgages Shot Down Half the Time

According to an article published today in Indian Country Today,
American Indians and Native Hawaiians when applying for home mortgages were shot down half the time:

Image via 808 Viral

Image via 808 Viral

Neither American Indians nor Native Hawaiians received half of the mortgages they applied for last year, though Hawaiians came to within a hair of it.

Native Americans (including Alaska Natives) received 46 percent of the loans they applied for, according to data lenders filed with the federal government. They applied for 70,000 mortgages in 2015 and received 32,500, the data show.

Native Hawaiians (including indigenous Pacific Islanders from Guam and American Samoa) applied for 49,000 and were successful in 24,600 cases, or a rate of 49.95 percent…

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/11/27/american-indians-and-native-hawaiians-mortgages-shot-down-half-time-166563

Governor Ige Signs Housing, Health Care Bills Into Law

Yesterday, Gov. David Ige signed into law six housing bills that aim to address the long-standing, complex housing shortage that has been a problem in Hawai‘i for decades.

Governor Ige Profile“My administration and the Legislature worked tirelessly and collaboratively on various measures to address the housing shortage this past session. We focused on maximizing the use of financing tools, we re-oriented target policies to boost production and we collaborated with the private sector and the counties to increase the housing supply,” said Gov. Ige.

The governor also signed into law bills relating to foster children, insurance and gender identity, long-term care facilities, health care and aging.

Here is a complete list of bill signed by the governor on Wednesday, June 29:

Housing Bills: SB 2561 (Act 127), SB 2566 (Act 128), SB 2833 (Act 129), SB 3077 (Act 130), HB 2293 (Act 131), HB 2305 (Act 132)

HB 2350 (Act 133) Relating to Foster Children – Expands opportunities for children in foster care to participate equally with classmates and peers by providing qualified immunity from liability for caregivers and childcare institutions for decisions regarding child’s participating in age or developmentally appropriate extracurricular, enrichment, cultural and social activities…

SB 2878 (Act 134) Relating to Youth Transitioning from Foster Care – Extends the application deadline for financial assistance for higher education available to foster or former foster youth.

HB 2084 (Act 135) Relating to Insurance – Prohibits all insurers in the state, including health insurers, mutual benefit plans under chapter 87A, HRS, from discriminating with respect to participation and coverage under a policy, contract, plan or agreement against any person on the basis of a person’s actual gender identity or perceived gender identity.

HB 1943 (Act 136) Relating to Long-Term Care Facilities – Provides an inflationary adjustment to the methodology used to reimburse facilities for long-term care of Medicaid recipients for FY 2016-17.

SB 2076 (Act 137) Relating to Health Care – Establishes a license program for suppliers of durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and related supplies through the Office of Health Care Assurance.

HB 1878 (Act 138) Relating to Aging – Appropriates funds for Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) for fall prevention and early detection services for the elderly.