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How to Evict a Tenant in Hawaii (7 Steps)

Evicting a tenant in Hawaii requires the landlord to determine why and when they want the tenant to vacate the property. Reasons include failure to pay rent, failure to abide by the terms of the lease agreement, or the end of the lease agreement term. The landlord serves the tenant with a Notice to Quit, and if the tenant does not respond within the designated time frame the landlord can move forward with eviction proceedings. They will file a Complaint and Summons with the District Court local to the property address. All court forms are available on a county-by-county basis.

LawsPart VI (Remedies and Penalties)

How to Evict

Step 1 – Send Eviction Notice to Tenant

The landlord must provide a written Notice to Quit based on the nature of the lease agreement breach. There are four (4) types of notices:

  • Non-Payment of Rent (5-Day Notice): The landlord issues this notice any time after the tenant misses a rent payment. The tenant has five (5) days to pay the late rent before the landlord can begin eviction proceedings.5,6
  • Nuisance (5-Day Notice): The landlord uses this notice any time after the tenant has created a nuisance in or around the premises. Examples of nuisances include prostitution and drug-related breaches.10
  • Demolition of Unit (120-Day Notice): If the landlord intends to demolish the building, they must let tenants know well in advance.11
  • Condominium Conversion (120-Day Notice): Converting to a condominium requires landlords to provide tenants with a minimum of 120 days’ notice.11
  • Short-Term Rental Conversion (120-Day Notice): To change any contracted tenancy over to a short term rental business, the landlord must give their tenant in Hawaii a minimum of 120 days’ notice.11
  • Non-Compliance (10-Day Notice): The landlord uses this notice when the tenant is in breach of a provision of the lease agreement other than non-payment of rent. The tenant has ten (10) days to cure the breach before the landlord can begin the eviction process.8
  • Terminate Month to Month Tenancy Letter (28/45 Day Notice): Either the landlord or tenant can issue this notice to the other party. It terminates the tenancy at will. Landlords must provide forty-five (45) days notice, and tenants must provide twenty-eight (28) days notice.7

Step 2 – Wait to Hear from the Tenant

The landlord waits the number of days on the notice to give the tenant an opportunity to respond, cure the breach or pay overdue rent. It is preferable to come to a compromise outside of court if possible.

Step 3 – File in Court

  • Average Processing Time: one (1) to four (4) months
  • Filing Fee: $155.001
  • Where to File: in person at the appropriate County Clerk office2

If the tenant doesn’t respond to the notice, the landlord can begin eviction proceedings. All of the following documents must be filed with the District Court of the county where the property in question is located.

  • Lease Agreement
  • Notice to Quit
  • Filing Fee
  • Complaint and Summons: In Hawaii, the Complaint and Summons are included on the same form. The Complaint initiates the eviction process and notifies the tenant of the reasons why they are being sued. The Summons notifies the tenant of the eviction process, the time and date of the court hearing, and the consequences of failing to file a written answer with the court.
  • Writ of Possession: This is not filed with the original eviction documents, but only used if the final ruling is in favor of the landlord. It gives authorities the power to physically remove the tenant and their possessions from the property.
  • Court Forms by County

Step 4 – Set A Hearing Date

After the Complaint and Summons have been filed with the court, the landlord arranges for a licensed process server to serve the documents on the tenant. The tenant usually has five (5) days from receipt of the Complaint and Summons to respond, but sometimes the court specifies a different time frame.

Step 5 – Appear in Court

Both the landlord and tenant appear in court at the time and date specified on the Summons with copies of all paperwork filed with the court.

Tenants can win in court based on a number of common tenant defenses. In Hawaii, tenants may claim that the landlord is out of compliance with any of the following responsibilities:

  • Maintaining the property with necessary repairs
  • Filing court documents with false or incorrect information3
  • Harassing or attempting to evict tenants for retaliatory reasons
  • Using “self-help” procedures such as changing the locks or shutting off utilities4,9

Step 6 – File a Writ of Possession

If the tenant does not respond to the Complaint and Summons, or they receive a losing verdict in court and do not vacate the premises in the time designated by the court, the court will issue a Writ of Possession on the property.

Step 7 – Repossess the Property

The landlord can use the Writ of Possession to utilize the Sheriff’s office to forcibly remove the tenant and their possessions from the property.

Evictions in Hawaii: Video

Sources

    1. courts.state.hi.us/docs/docs6/DC_Fees_Final.pdf
    2. courts.state.hi.us/self-help/landlord/forms/tenant_forms
    3. nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/evictions-renters-tenants-rights-29824.html
    4. nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/how-to-delay-an-eviction-in-hawaii.html
    5. § 521-21
    6. § 521-68
    7. § 521-71
    8. § 521-72
    9. § 521-73
    10. § 712-1270
    11. § 521-71(c)