Hawaii Rent Control Laws in 2024

Introduction to Hawaii Landlord-Tenant Laws

The landlord-tenant relationship in Hawaii is governed by both state laws and any applicable county or city ordinances. These laws outline the rights and responsibilities for both rental property owners and tenants when it comes to leases, deposits, maintenance, repairs, discrimination, evictions, and more. 

Hawaii does not have rent control laws like some other states, so landlords have broad authority to set rental rates in the free market. However, there are regulations protecting tenants from retaliation, discrimination, and negligent property management. Tenants are expected to pay rent on time, keep the unit clean and undamaged, and notify the landlord of any necessary repairs.

Overall, Hawaii strives to balance the interests of landlords and tenants to promote safe, fair, and stable rental housing. Both parties are required to engage in good faith and fair dealing. Understanding the applicable laws and rights can help prevent conflicts and support successful tenant-landlord relationships.

Rental Agreements in Hawaii

Rental agreements in Hawaii, whether written or oral, establish the contractual relationship between tenants and landlords. There are certain provisions that rental agreements are required to contain as well as terms that are prohibited by Hawaii law.

Required Lease Terms

Hawaii law requires all rental agreements to disclose:

  • The name and address of the property owner and manager
  • The amount of rent and when it is due 
  • Where rent should be paid

If there are any utilities or services that will be provided, they must be listed in the lease. The rental agreement should also note if the tenant is responsible for paying any utilities separately.

Prohibited Lease Terms 

There are certain lease provisions that are unenforceable under Hawaii law:

  • Waiving the landlord's responsibility to provide a fit and habitable residence
  • Requiring tenants pay landlord legal fees or other costs in a dispute
  • Allowing the landlord to take possessions without proper court procedures
  • Requiring tenants to agree to facts they don't know are true

Notices and Disclosures

Hawaii law requires landlords provide certain notices and disclosures to tenants:

  • Disclosure of any known lead-based paint or hazards on the property 
  • Notification if the property was previously used to manufacture methamphetamines
  • Disclosure of the presence of any radon gas in concentrations above federal safety levels

Security Deposits 

In Hawaii, landlords can charge a security deposit up to 1 month's rent for an unfurnished unit or 1.5 month's rent for a furnished unit. Landlords must hold security deposits in an escrow account.

Within 14 days of the tenant moving out, the landlord must provide an itemized list of any deductions taken from the deposit along with the remaining balance. Disputes over excessive or improper deductions can be taken to small claims court by the tenant.

Repairs and Maintenance

In Hawaii, landlords are responsible for maintaining rental properties in a fit and habitable condition. This includes keeping basic systems and appliances in working order and addressing any conditions that could pose a health or safety risk to tenants.

Landlords must make repairs to address:

  • Plumbing leaks or clogged drains
  • Broken windows
  • Non-working appliances provided by the landlord 
  • Pest infestations
  • Mold issues
  • Broken locks or security issues
  • Lack of hot or cold water
  • No electricity, gas, or other essential services

Tenants should notify the landlord as soon as possible when a repair is needed. The request should be made in writing and describe the issue in detail. 

The landlord must begin making a good faith effort to fix the problem within 12 business days for serious health/safety issues. For less severe problems, repairs should be completed within 30 days. 

If a landlord fails to take action on necessary repairs in a reasonable timeframe, tenants may have the following options:

  • File a complaint with the state housing authority
  • Hire a professional to make the repair and deduct the cost from rent
  • Sue the landlord for violating the warranty of habitability
  • Break the lease 

Tenants are responsible for paying for any damages they or their guests cause, other than normal wear and tear. Tenants must keep the rental unit clean, dispose of trash properly, and avoid damaging the property. Tenants may also be required to perform basic maintenance like replacing lightbulbs and maintaining a garden if agreed to in the lease.

Landlord's Access to Rental Property

Hawaii law outlines rules for when and how a landlord can enter a rental unit. Landlords must provide tenants with "quiet enjoyment" of the property.

Notice Requirements

The landlord or their agent can only enter the rental unit at reasonable times and with proper advance notice to the tenant. Reasonable notice is considered:

  • 24 hours notice for entry to make repairs requested by the tenant
  • 48 hours notice to conduct showings for sale or lease of the unit
  • Written 5 days notice for periodic inspections and maintenance 

Notice must be given in writing, such as posted on the door or sent via email. Notice by phone call is not sufficient. 

Entry Rules

  • Entry is only allowed during normal business hours, between 8am and 5pm unless it's an emergency.
  • The landlord must knock and announce themselves before entering. 
  • Tenants can deny or reschedule entry for repairs or maintenance that is not urgent.
  • The landlord cannot abuse entry rights or repeatedly disturb the tenant.
  • The landlord cannot enter without the tenant's permission if only to harass or invade privacy.


The landlord may enter without notice in case of emergency, such as a fire, flood, or gas leak. They can also enter without notice if the property has been abandoned.

Tenant Remedies

If the landlord violates notice and entry rules, the tenant can file a lawsuit to recover damages or end the rental agreement. The tenant should keep documentation of the improper entry.

Terminating a Lease in Hawaii

In Hawaii, landlords must follow proper procedures when terminating a lease or evicting a tenant. There are valid and invalid reasons for ending a tenancy.

Valid Reasons for Lease Termination

In Hawaii, landlords can terminate a periodic tenancy (month to month lease) for any reason by providing proper written notice. For fixed term leases, the lease can be terminated for cause. Valid causes include:

  • Nonpayment of rent
  • Violation of lease terms 
  • Damage to the property
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Refusing entry to the landlord

Landlords can also terminate any tenancy if they intend to personally occupy the unit, demolish the building, or make repairs that require vacancy. 

Required Notice Periods

To terminate a periodic tenancy in Hawaii, landlords must provide 45 days written notice. For fixed term leases, no notice is required at the expiration date. 

For lease violations, a 5-day notice to cure must be provided before a 10-day notice to vacate.

Illegal Evictions

Hawaii law prohibits landlords from resorting to "self-help" illegal evictions. Lockouts, utility shutoffs, and seizure of possessions are unlawful. Landlords must go through the court eviction process, allowing tenants due process. Tenants illegally locked out can recover damages and legal fees.

Landlord Obligations

Landlords in Hawaii have a number of obligations to uphold under state law. These include:

Providing Habitable Premises 

Under Hawaii law, landlords must provide tenants with premises that are fit for habitation and comply with all applicable building and housing codes. This means rental units must have hot and cold running water, proper plumbing, heating, ventilation, and be structurally sound. Landlords are required to make any repairs needed to keep the property habitable. If a rental unit has conditions that materially affect the health and safety of tenants, the landlord must fix the problems within a reasonable time after receiving written notice from the tenant. 

Abiding by Anti-Discrimination Laws

Hawaii landlords cannot refuse to rent to or discriminate against any potential tenant on the basis of race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, color, religion, marital status, familial status, ancestry, disability, age or HIV infection. Landlords also cannot apply different terms or rules to tenants based on their membership in a protected class. This includes refusing to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities.

Following Rules Regarding Security Deposits 

Landlords in Hawaii must follow specific rules regarding any security deposit collected from tenants. This includes placing the deposit in an escrow account, providing a receipt, doing a walkthrough before and after tenancy, returning deposits within 14 days after the tenant moves out, and providing an itemized statement for any amounts withheld. Withholding any portion of the security deposit without proper cause is illegal.

Tenant Obligations

As a renter in Hawaii, you have certain obligations you must uphold under your rental agreement. Failure to meet these obligations could result in consequences imposed by your landlord.

Paying Rent on Time

One of the most important tenant responsibilities is paying rent in full and on time every month. Your lease should specify the monthly rental amount and when rent is due each month. If your rent is late, your landlord can charge late fees as specified in the lease. Consistent failure to pay rent on time could lead to eviction. 

To avoid late rent payments, be sure you know when rent is due each month. Set up a way to remind yourself like calendar alerts, and budget accordingly. Communicate proactively with your landlord if an emergency arises impacting your ability to pay rent on time for any given month. But understand the landlord is not obligated to waive late fees or make exceptions.  

Avoiding Property Damage

Tenants are responsible for keeping the rental unit in the same condition as when they moved in, except for normal wear and tear. You should take care not to damage the floors, walls, appliances, fixtures or any other part of the rental property. This means taking precautions like not letting water overflow or using appliances improperly.

Report any maintenance issues immediately to prevent damage from worsening. You may need to pay for any damage caused by you or your guests, beyond standard wear and tear. Avoid actions that could lead to damage, like using the wrong cleaning products on surfaces.

Maintaining Cleanliness  

Keeping the rental unit clean is another key tenant duty. Your lease likely specifies your responsibilities related to cleanliness. This generally includes regularly cleaning the floors, kitchen appliances, bathrooms, and other areas. Properly disposing of trash and recycling is also important.

When you move out, you may be responsible for having the unit professionally cleaned or paying fees for any cleaning the landlord must do. Maintain cleanliness throughout your tenancy to avoid large cleaning bills. Ask your landlord for details on their expectations for keeping the unit tidy.

Landlord Remedies for Violations

If a tenant violates the rental agreement, the landlord has several options available as remedies under Hawaii law:

Fees and Damages

The landlord may charge reasonable fees and claim damages if the tenant violates the lease. For example, if the tenant has an unauthorized pet or extra roommate, the landlord can charge a fee. If the tenant damages the property, the landlord can deduct repair costs from the security deposit or sue the tenant for the damages.  


For serious or repeated lease violations, the landlord can begin the eviction process to remove the tenant. Reasons for eviction include nonpayment of rent, property damage, disturbing other tenants, and criminal activity. The landlord must provide proper written notice then file for eviction court if needed. Self-help evictions like changing locks are illegal.

Security Deposit Deductions


When a lease ends, the landlord can deduct fees and damages from the tenant's security deposit, following Hawaii rules about deposit returns. Proper itemization and documentation is required. Improper deductions can lead to the tenant recovering up to 3x the amount withheld.

Limits on Self-Help Eviction

Landlords cannot attempt to evict tenants on their own through methods like shutting off utilities or changing locks. These "self-help evictions" are illegal, even if the tenant violated the lease. Landlords must go through proper court eviction procedures to remove a problem tenant.

Tenant Remedies for Violations

If a landlord violates any part of the rental agreement, tenants have legal remedies they can pursue. Some key remedies for tenants include:

Withholding Rent

In certain situations, tenants may legally withhold rent payments if the landlord fails to uphold their duties. Withholding rent is only allowed in cases of serious health or safety violations that make the unit uninhabitable or unlivable. For example, tenants could withhold rent if there are sewage backups, no running water, or dangerous electrical issues. 

Strict procedures must be followed for lawful rent withholding. Tenants should provide written notice of the violation and allow reasonable time for the landlord to address it. Withheld rent must be set aside in a separate account. Tenants should consult a lawyer before deciding to withhold rent.

Damages and Injunctions 

Tenants can sue a landlord for monetary damages if the landlord violates the law or rental agreement. Common reasons include failure to make repairs, illegal evictions, or refusing to return the security deposit. Tenants may recover actual losses plus attorneys fees. 

Injunctions can also be obtained from the court to force a landlord to take or refrain from certain actions. For instance, a court could order the landlord to make repairs, stop harassment, or halt illegal lockouts.

Reporting Violations

If a landlord engages in illegal practices, tenants can file official complaints with state and local housing authorities. These agencies can investigate violations of housing codes and landlord-tenant laws. They may issue warnings, citations, or fines to noncompliant landlords.

Reporting unsafe or unsanitary living conditions is an important remedy to compel landlords to comply with their obligations. Most cities and counties have information on their websites about how to file housing condition complaints.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the renters rights in Hawaii?

Renters in Hawaii have a number of basic rights, including the right to a habitable living space free of dangerous or unsanitary conditions, the right to freedom from discrimination based on protected characteristics, the right to privacy within the rental unit, the right to the return of security deposits when required, and the right to be free from retaliation for exercising their legal rights. Hawaii law protects tenants from unlawful eviction and sets standards for issues like security deposits and lease termination notices.

Why does Hawaii not use rent control? 

Hawaii does not have any statewide rent control laws limiting how much landlords can raise rents each year. Rent control legislation has occasionally been proposed in Hawaii, but it has not passed to date. The rationale given by opponents is often that rent control could discourage new construction and investment in rental housing. Landlords in Hawaii have free market control over setting rental rates for their properties.

Can I withhold rent in Hawaii?

In certain situations, Hawaii tenants may legally withhold rent if there are serious health or safety violations present in the unit, such as a lack of hot water or electricity due to the landlord's failure to maintain the property. However, there are strict procedural requirements tenants must follow, like providing proper written notice and allowing time to repair. Withholding rent without carefully following the law can lead to eviction, so legal advice is recommended.

How much notice does a landlord have to give a tenant to move out in Hawaii?

For periodic tenancies in Hawaii, such as month-to-month rentals, landlords must provide 45 days written notice to terminate the tenancy. For fixed term leases, like a one year rental agreement, no notice is required at the expiration of the lease. However, the landlord must still pursue proper court eviction procedures if a tenant holds over. Tenants must also provide proper notice when terminating periodic tenancies.

Featured Tools
Finding and Selecting the Best Tenant
For a $2,000 monthly rental: 1. You lose $1,000 if you have your rental on the market for 15 additional days. 2. You lose $1,000+ for evictions. Learn how to quickly find and select a qualified tenant while following the law.
More Tools