This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information.
This page was last updated on Aug 26th, 2022. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.
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Emergency Protections during COVID
Do renters have protections against eviction during the Covid-19 emergency?
Received a Warning Notice about Eviction?
Have you received a warning notice from your landlord, like a ‘Notice to Quit’ or a ‘Notice to Leave’? Find what options you have.
Facing an Eviction Lawsuit?
Has your landlord filed an eviction lawsuit in court? Have you received a Summons and Complaint? Learn what rights and options you have.
Behind on Rent?
Find local programs that can help you with housing costs, or work out a plan with your landlord.
Hawaii's statewide emergency protections for renters have expired. Landlords may now try to sue tenants to evict them. If you are worried about an eviction, reach out as soon as possible to your local legal aid group. The lawyers may be able to help you find protections and services to deal with your eviction.
Hawaii Governor David Ige issued an emergency order suspending evictions for nonpayment of rent through August 6, 2021. It went into effect on April 17, 2020 and now is expired.
Some Hawaii renters were protected by the national CDC eviction moratorium. It expired on August 26, 2021.
Since emergency protections have expired in Hawaii, then for renters:
Yes, Hawaii renters still need to pay rent during the emergency.
You may have been protected from eviction, but now that those protections are over, you may be sued and you still owe all your rent.
If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:
Hawaii landlords can sue tenants for eviction since the statewide protections ended.
But if you can't pay your rent because of hardships during COVID, you may be able to stop the eviction by getting rental assistance. Reach out as soon as possible for help.
If you receive a notice to quit from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit, reach out for legal help.
Some Hawaii renters may be protected against utility shutoffs during the emergency. It depends on where you live.
Renters must still pay their utility bills. If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.
Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.
Tell your landlord about any repairs needed, particularly if they affect your health and safety.
The emergency may delay your landlord's ability to make repairs, but if they are urgent you should call your landlord to make the repairs as soon as possible.
Emergency repairs could be for problems with:
If your landlord doesn't make the repairs promptly, send them a written letter or email about the need for emergency repairs and keep a copy of this communication.
You may be able to break your lease if you can come to an agreement with your landlord.
Your lease is still valid despite the emergency period. However, you can talk to your landlord to see if they will agree to let you leave early. If they agree, be sure to get the agreement in writing.
Also, you can review your lease. It may have a part that lets you end the lease early in times of financial difficulty. If your lease has this kind of part, you might be able to break the lease, in some cases penalty-free.
Contact a legal help organization to help defend yourself.
It is illegal for your landlord to evict you without first going to court and getting an eviction order. To remove you from your home, a landlord must file an eviction lawsuit against you, win the case, and get an eviction order from the court.
Eviction cases have resumed after the emergency protections expired on August 6, 2021. Check with your local court for more up-to-date information.
Renters in 3 categories have special national protections against being evicted during the Emergency Period of March 27, 2020 to July 24 or 25, 2020. These national protections add onto any state and local protections you have.
Do you fit in any of these 3 categories?
If you are a renter in one of these 3 categories, the federal CARES Act section 4024 gives you these protections. (Remember, these protections add onto any state and local protections you have)
You do not have to leave your home yet.
A landlord is prohibited from giving a notice to evict for non-payment until the Hawaii State eviction moratorium expires. Once it expires, your landlord must give you an official notice that they may bring you to court to evict you for not paying your rent (or other reasons). The notice should give you time to either pay your rent or prepare defenses against eviction.
This official notice must follow some rules to be valid. If it doesn't follow these rules, then you can challenge it and stop an eviction.
These are the Hawaii requirements for an eviction notice:
Reach out for legal help if you think the notice isn't correct, or if you need assistance in defending yourself against the eviction.
A verbal conversation doesn't count as an "eviction notice". To be legal, the notice must be written down and given to you in the correct way. Many landlords are trying to harass non-paying tenants into leaving - you cannot be legally evicted for non-payment of rent until after the Hawaii State eviction moratorium expires.
Reach out for legal help if your landlord is trying to make you leave without going through the court process. This is illegal and a lawyer may be able to help you protect yourself.
No, you do not have to leave (or 'quit') your home by the date listed on the eviction notice.
You do not have to leave your home until you have been brought to court, and a judge has ordered that your landlord can make you leave.
Landlords can not physically remove you, touch your personal property, change the locks, or cut off your utilities.
After the date on the eviction notice passes, then your landlord may file an eviction lawsuit in court against you. You will be able to go to court and present defenses to protect yourself.
You still have time to reach out for rental assistance, and stop the eviction from moving forward.
Be sure to let the local group know that you have received an eviction notice and what its deadline is. They may be able to help you pay the rent you owe, or work with your landlord to reduce the amount or put you on a payment plan.
In Hawaii, you have a minimum of 5 business days between your landlord giving you a notice and them filing a lawsuit against you in court to evict you, but you can pay the full rent owed until the landlord has filed the eviction action in court.
Once the eviction action is filed, you will need to negotiate the payment of any rent due.
The notice should tell you how many days the landlord is giving you. If they are giving you less than 5 business days, then you may be able to challenge it as illegal (30 days if the rental property has a federally backed mortgage loan.) Again, this notice cannot be given until after the Hawaii State eviction moratorium expires.
Reach out for legal help if you think the notice isn't giving you the required time to make your payment.
You should make sure that the landlord properly 'served' you with the lawsuit in Hawaii. If they didn't give it you in the correct way, you can challenge the eviction lawsuit. In Hawaii, a landlord must follow certain rules to let you know about the lawsuit:
You should also reach out to local lawyers who can help you prepare for your court hearing so you can protect yourself against the eviction.
In Hawaii, you are required to respond to the eviction lawsuit, if you want to avoid the eviction.
You will have at least 5 business days after you receive the Summons and Complaint. You should either file a written answer or appear in court (in person or virtually) in order to avoid a default in which the landlord will be allowed to obtain a writ of possession to quickly evict you and the judge may give the landlord permission to remove you from your home.
Reach out to legal help to learn what your rights and defenses are in your eviction case. These organizations can help you deal with this lawsuit.
You can come to an agreement with your landlord, but you should still go to court to make sure your case is closed.
You can work with your landlord to work out an agreement before the date of the court hearing. This might be a payment plan or other agreement on what needs to happen for you to stay in your home.
Be sure to get this agreement in writing, so that you can prove it exists and that your landlord follows through on it.
Also, you should still go to court for your hearing date (virtually or in person), to make sure the court knows about the agreement and closes the lawsuit. You can check the state of your case in the court system here. If you do not go to court, the lawsuit might still continue and the judge might rule that the landlord can remove you. Go to court yourself (in person or try a virtual option) to make sure this doesn't happen.
You can reach out for legal help to get assistance in negotiating an agreement with your landlord, and making sure this agreement is being followed.
If you are behind on rent, you can get help from your local Rental Assistance program. This is a government service to help people who owe rent or utility bills.
Especially if you are behind on rent because of COVID-19 hardships, your local Rental Assistance (or Rent Relief) program can help you.
Find your local Rental Assistance program at your Get Help page here.
Local governments set the rules about who is eligible for rent relief. Most programs focus on people who have suffered COVID-19 hardships.
You can talk to your local Rental Assistance program to learn their eligibility rules.
You may have to show your household income, or if you are on other benefits programs like SNAP.
You may also have to show that you are at risk of homelessness or eviction if you don't get rental assistance.
Many local Rental Assistance programs are open to everyone, regardless of immigration status. Many programs do not even ask about immigration status.
Check with your local Rental Assistance program to make sure about eligibility rules and immigration.
Most Rental Assistance programs let landlords apply.
Either a renter or a landlord can start the application.
The landlord will have to fill in as much information they have about the amount of money needed, and the eligibility for the program. The tenant may have to fill in the rest of the information.
Find legal groups that can help you with housing problems, landlords, roommates, Section 8, domestic violence, discrimination, and more.Find Legal Services
Find groups that can help you pay the rent, cover utility costs, and get other housing-related assistance.Find Financial Help
Find help with other problems, like domestic violence, health coverage, food benefits, mental health, and other issues.Find Other Services
State information is taken from these sources:Legal Aid Society of HawaiiHawaiian ElectricHawaii utilitiesHawaii Governor emergency orderHawaii courts COVID-19 pageLegal Aid FAQPrinceton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect TrackerHawaii governor extension of moratorium
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