Law Week: Landlord Tenant Law

In a perfect world, landlords and renters would all get along. But that doesn’t always happen and when there’s conflict, many legal questions can surface.

This morning on Wake Up 2day, attorney Alan Ma joined us in studio to talk about Property Law.

Ma says landlords are responsible to: have the unit ready for the tenant to move in at the time and in the condition agreed upon; provide safe and healthy premises required by law; make all repairs and arrangements necessary to keep the premises in a livable condition; maintain all electrical, plumbing and appliances supplied by the landlord in good working condition; maintain garbage bins and arrange for removal of waste, except in the case of a single family residence; provide for the supplying of running water as reasonably required except in the case where the building is specifically exempted by law.

On the opposite side, tenants are responsible to keep their unit in a clean and safe condition and to obey all laws and regulations governing cleanliness, health and safety.  If the unit is a condo, the tenant must also comply with condominium documents.  Tenants are also responsible for paying the agreed upon rent on time; to notify their landlord in writing if the tenant will be absent from the unit for 20 days continuously, allow the landlord reasonable entry into the unit to inspect, make repairs and show the unit to prospective purchasers and tenants, provided the landlord gives at least 2 days’ notice and enters only during reasonable hours; notify the landlord of conditions which need repairs; and comply with the lawful terms of the rental agreement.

A security deposit is money given by the tenant to the landlord for the following purposes: (1) to remedy tenant defaults for damages, for failure to pay rent or for failure to return keys at the termination of the rental agreement; (2) to put the unit in as clean a condition at the end of the tenancy as it was at the start, except for normal wear and tear; or (3) to compensate for damages by a tenant who wrongfully quits the unit.  When a tenant moves out, if the Landlord has lawful grounds to retain all or any portion of the security deposit, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing of the reasons for retention.  Any costs, such as cleaning or specific repairs, must be itemized and copies of receipts included, if possible.  The notice, and any portion of the security deposit remaining, after deductions, must be given to the tenant within 14 days after the termination of the rental agreement.  If the repairs cannot be accomplished within the 14 days, estimates for cleaning or repair services may be substituted.

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Landlord-Tenant information website; the Hawaii State Judiciary website under the Self-Help Tab.

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