The rights and obligations of Hawaii tenants and landlords in residential tenancies are governed by the Landlord-Tenant Code as set forth in Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapter 521. Essentially, tenants are obliged to pay their rent as agreed, and landlords likewise are obligated to maintain the rental premises as agreed.
A tenant must timely pay his rent, and if he is late the landlord may, “any time after rent is due, demand payment thereof and notify the tenant in writing that unless payment is made within a time mentioned in the notice, not less than five business days after receipt thereof, the rental agreement will be terminated.” Hawaii Revised Statutes §521-68. Thereafter, if the tenant has not paid the requested rent, the landlord may initiate a legal action for summary possession in the District Court in which the tenant resides.
A landlord’s complaint for summary possession is in two parts. The first part of the proceeding is for the recovery of the premises, and will occur relatively quickly. Until such time as the landlord obtains a judgment for possession, however, the tenant is entitled to remain on the premises. The second part of the summary possession proceeding pertains to damages to the leased premises, if any, rent past due, and other damages such as loss of rental income, attorney’s fees and costs.
Landlords, on the other hand, have an obligation to maintain a rental premises in a habitable condition, and this implied warranty of habitability runs with every residential lease. See Lemle v. Breeden, 462 P.2d 470 (1969). When the implied warranty of habitability is breached, the tenant may pursue basic contract remedies of damages, reformation and recision. The implied warranty of habitability requires that the utilities will be in full working order, and that the leased premises will be free of any conditions that would make it unsafe, such as mold or other unsanitary conditions.
This law firm represents both tenants and landlords. If you are involved in a landlord-tenant dispute and would like to discuss your rights and options, please contact us for a free consultation so that we can determine the best way to protect your interests.