Hawaiian landlords can now begin evicting tenants for non-payment of rent. More than a year ago, Gov. David Ige imposed a moratorium to protect public health by keeping people housed, but now that safety net is gone.
It may be time to start evicting tenants who haven’t paid rent in the past year because of the pandemic. Despite this, Hawaii has a comprehensive eviction law that ensures your protection as well as that of your tenant. Find out more about this process by reading on.
Why Evict a Tenant
To begin an eviction process in Hawaii, a Notice to Quit must be provided. A Notice to Quit is not required by all states, and even then, it depends on the reason for the eviction. In Hawaii, common causes for eviction include:
1. Non-Payment of Rent
A day past the due date is considered late in Hawaii. You must give a tenant a written Notice to Quit before starting the eviction process. Tenants have five days to either pay rent or leave. If they remain after the notice period of five days without paying the rent, you may continue to file for eviction.
2. Violation of the Rental Agreement
Among the lease violations in a Hawaii eviction are:
- The tenant damaged the rental unit.
- The tenant smoked in areas in the property where smoking is not allowed.
- The tenant kept a pet when the lease agreement states that pets are not allowed.
3. Conduct of Illegal Activity
If a tenant engages in activity that could be considered a “common nuisance,” you must give them a written notice of 24 hours to remedy the situation. However, you may not allow time for the tenant to resolve the issue if the illegal activity threatens or harms other tenants. Instead, the tenant should be given an unconditional notice to vacate.
Other than these common reasons, you can also evict a tenant if you are about to demolish or convert the rental unit into another property. You must give month-to-month tenants 120 days’ notice before filing for eviction.
Filing a Complaint
The next step in an eviction process in Hawaii is to file a lawsuit in the appropriate district court, which is where the rental property is located.
Serving the tenant with a summons and complaint is the next step in the eviction process. Most landlords cannot serve the documents themselves. Individuals over the age of 18 who are not involved in the case, the local sheriff or police chief, or anyone else appointed by the court can serve documents in Hawaii. When the tenant receives it, they have five to seven days to file an answer so that they can appear in court.
Getting a Judgment for Possession
Eviction hearings are scheduled based on court availability. Scheduled dates may not be set until a few days or weeks after you filed the suit.
As a landlord, you must provide solid evidence to back up your arguments against your tenants if you want to successfully evict them. In the event the tenants fail to appear at the hearing, you may win by default.
On the date of the trial, you will have to submit evidence to the judge in support of your claim. The evidence may include, but is not limited to:
- Copy of the rental agreement
- Bank statements
- Rent receipts
- Rent ledgers
- Witness statements
- Photo and video documentation of the violations that the tenant committed
After you win the case, the court will issue a Writ of Possession. In this court order, the tenant is informed that they must leave the property or they will be removed.
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