What’s the Law on Renting & Buying Homes

What's the Law

Honolulu (KHON2) –  Landlord Tenant Issues and Buying or Selling Your Home are hot topics in the latest KHON2 What’s the Law podcast.

Host Coralie Chun Matayoshi explains Residential Landlord/Tenant Code sets forth the law that governs the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and tenant.  DCCA has the Hawaii Handbook from online, you can purchase hard copy for $2, or find it in the public library.

She also addresses terminating a lease.

“It depends on the type of lease you have.  If it’s month-to-month or week-to-week, either Landlord or Tenant must give a certain number of days notice to terminate.  If it’s a fixed term (e.g. lease expires on October 1, 2020) then it automatically expires and no notice is required,” she says.

Other than that, it’s not easy to break a rental agreement unless the lease has an early termination clause, the unit is deemed uninhabitable, severe harassment by Landlord or military change of station.

For security deposits, landlords can charge an amount less than or equal to one month’s rent plus pet deposit (if pet is not a service dog or emotional support animal). Security deposit cannot be applied to last months rent unless landlord and tenant agree to this in writing.

First, Tenant needs to give proper notice to Landlord. For example, if you are on a month-to-month rental agreement, then you must give your Landlord at least 28 days written notice of when you plan to move out. Oral notice doesn’t count.

Within 14 days after termination of rental agreement, Landlord must return full deposit or give notice in writing for any deductions from the security deposit, reasons, and itemized receipts for expenses Landlord incurred.

Landlord has right to keep all or part deposit if you:

•             damage the property beyond normal wear and tear

•             don’t clean thoroughly upon moving out

•             don’t return all keys upon moving out

•             don’t pay rent or wrongfully quit the unit before the end of its term

Chun Matayoshi adds, “Most important thing landlord has to do is give proper notice because if not, they cannot keep security deposit even if tenant trashed the place. Landlord can sue tenant for damages, but it can be hard to find tenant later, file lawsuit, and collect.  Better to give proper notice and be able to keep all or part of security deposit.”

Other subjects on podcast include – whether you can deduct cost of repairs if landlord doesn’t fix, what you can do about noisy tenants, and later podcast will deal with evictions – court is working on different process in anticipation of eviction moratorium being lifted.  Now is time to work out payment plan with landlord, podcast posted in July on free Landlord/Tenant Mediation.

Buying or Selling Your Home is the focus of the new September 14 podcast.

Podcast goes through the steps involved in buying or selling your home – from offer and acceptance, to escrow, initial deposit, property inspection, termite inspection (Hawaii has a lot of termites), survey, appraisal, documents, and final walk-through.

One of the most important and most litigated items is the Seller’s Real Property Disclosure Statement.  Seller has duty of good faith to disclose material facts about property including facts based on their personal knowledge, facts provided to them by government agencies reports prepared for Seller by consultants like engineers, geologists, termite inspectors, homeowners association.

There are consequences for failing to disclose – buyer could rescind.  Also best for Buyer to get own professional property inspection – like you would get mechanic to check before buying a used car.

You can get more legal insights from the KHON2 What’s the Law podcast online at https://www.khon2.com/whats-the-law/

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