HONOLULU – The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ (DCCA) Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) advises Hawaii Island residents that state’s emergency proclamation for the Hawaii Island remains in effect, including a ban on terminating residential rentals.
OCP has received reports from both landlords and tenants that landlords may be canceling month-to-month rentals in order to rent their units at a higher rate to new tenants who are fleeing areas in the path of the oncoming lava in search of alternate housing.
The emergency proclamation was issued on Sept. 5, 2014, was extended to Dec. 1, 2014, under the supplemental proclamation issued on Sept. 22, 2014,
A ban against terminating existing rentals in residential dwelling units went into effect on the date of the original emergency proclamation. OCP reminds Hawaii Island residential landlords that they may not terminate an existing rental agreement as long as the emergency proclamation remains in effect. The ban applies unless the tenant commits a material breach of a rental agreement or lease, or if the unit is unfit for occupancy as defined in Act 111, Session Laws of Hawaii 2014.
“Big Island residents should take note of these and other important protections that remain in effect during the governor’s emergency proclamation. We are reminding landlords to comply with these laws,” said OCP’s Executive Director Bruce B. Kim. “Violations could result in serious penalties and fines of up to $10,000 per day per violation.”
The ban does not extend a fixed-term lease, which expires during the ban except when a periodic tenancy for a residential dwelling unit may be terminated upon 45-days written notice if the dwelling unit is sold to a bona fide purchaser for value or the landlord or immediate family member will occupy the residential dwelling unit.
No rent increases on residential dwelling units are allowed during the emergency proclamation unless the increases were already included in a written instrument that was signed by the tenant prior to the date of the emergency proclamation. However, a landlord may pass on additional operating expenses incurred by the landlord because of the emergency or disaster provided the landlord can document those expenses.
If you have questions regarding the Residential Landlord-Tenant Code, call the Hawaii Residential Landlord-Tenant Hotline at 586-2634 or from the Big Island at 974-4000, ext. 62634#.
If you believe you are a victim of a violation, you may obtain information about filing a complaint with OCP by calling the OCP office in Hilo at 933-0910, by calling the Consumer Resource Center in Honolulu at 587-4272 or toll-free from the Big Island at 947-4000, ext. 74272#, or by going to the OCP website at http://cca.hawaii.gov/ocp/consumer-complaint/
The State of Hawaii’s DCCA Office of Consumer Protection educates and protects consumers from unlawful acts or practices by companies, which may cause harm to consumers. If you have questions about our services, contact the Office of Consumer Protection at (808) 586-2636. OCP also is responsible for providing the general public with information about the Hawaii Residential Landlord Tenant Code through its Landlord-Tenant Hotline at 586-2634.