Experts say higher rents ahead as Hawaii’s eviction moratorium expires

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — Real estate experts say there will be fewer options for renters and even higher rent prices after July. This is as the State gets ready to lift the eviction moratorium on Friday, Aug. 6.

The eviction moratorium went into effect in April 2020. The president of the Honolulu Board of Realtors pointed out that landlords who are unable to collect rent have been struggling to keep up with paying for their property. Some are dropping out of the rental market.

“We are seeing somewhat of a decrease in rentals coming on the market because people are sort of fed up, knowing that they didn’t get paid for a year,” said Shannon Heaven.

She said that eventually will lead to higher rent.

“Because there’s gonna be less available rentals on the market and more demand and the prices of purchasing homes right now is escalated. So you’re going to see that follow in the rents as well,” said Heaven.

Landlords can start eviction proceedings against a tenant who is at least four months behind on rent after Aug. 6. Once that notice is sent, another notice will be sent to one of five community mediation centers statewide, and the center will schedule a meeting with the tenant within 15 days. Officials stress that the tenant needs to respond within that 15 days to avoid eviction.

“If a mediation is scheduled then the landlord will not be able to evict for 30 days. If they reach an agreement in mediation which is the ideal, then there won’t be an eviction process,” said Tracey Wiltgen, executive director of The Mediation Center of the Pacific.

The end of the eviction moratorium allows landlords to collect all the back rent that is due. Wiltgen estimated that up to 2,000 people will sign up for mediation. Heaven said there will likely be more, however.

She said her company alone has 193 delinquent tenants who owe a total of $500,000 in back rent. She added that many of the landlords have been asking their tenants to meet and work out an agreement, and so having the mediation process is long overdue.

“We have a lot of owners that are in dire need of rent and struggling right now and unfortunately I think this is long overdue. We should’ve been looking at this a while ago,” she said.

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