Amount, Uses, Timely Accounting and Return, and Damages
Most Hawaii residential rental agreements usually require that the Hawaii tenant provide a security deposit. However, the majority of Hawaii landlords probably don’t know the maximum amount that they can ask for, as well as when they’re allowed to use the security deposit.
Pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 521-44 (Hawaii’s Residential Landlord-Tenant Code), the amount of a security deposit shall not exceed one month’s rent. In addition, the Hawaii landlord cannot require or receive from, or on behalf of, a Hawaii tenant at the beginning of a Hawaii residential rental agreement any money other than the money for the first month’s rent and a security deposit as provided by this section.
Security Deposit Use by a Hawaii Landlord
Hawaii’s Residential Landlord-Tenant Code also limits the circumstances when a Hawaii landlord may use the Hawaii tenant’s security deposit. The Hawaii landlord may use the security deposit only for the following instances:
- To remedy a tenant’s defaults (a) for accidental or intentional damages resulting from failure to comply with Section 521-51 of Hawaii’s Residential Landlord-Tenant Code, (b) for failure to pay rent due, or (c) for failure to return all keys furnished by the landlord at the termination of the Hawaii rental agreement;
- To clean the dwelling unit or have it cleaned at the termination of the Hawaii rental agreement so as to place the condition of the dwelling unit in as fit a condition as that which the tenant entered into possession of the dwelling unit; and
- To compensate for damages caused by a tenant who wrongfully quits the dwelling unit.
At the termination of the Hawaii residential rental agreement, if the Hawaii landlord wishes to retain any portion of the security deposit for any of the aforementioned reasons, the Hawaii landlord is obligated to notify the Hawaii tenant, in writing (unless the Hawaii tenant had wrongfully quit the dwelling unit), together with the details of and grounds for the retention, including written evidence of the costs (such as estimates and invoices) of remedying Hawaii tenant’s defaults.
The security deposit, or the portion of the security deposit remaining after the landlord has claimed and retained certain amounts, shall be returned to the Hawaii tenant not later than fourteen days after the termination of the Hawaii residential rental agreement.
If the Hawaii landlord does not furnish the Hawaii tenant with written notice and other required information, within fourteen days after the termination of the Hawaii residential rental agreement, the Hawaii landlord shall not be entitled to retain the security deposit or any part of it, and the Hawaii landlord shall return the entire amount of the security deposit to the Hawaii tenant.
Security Deposit Claim Disputes in Hawaii
In the event, the landlord and tenant disagree about the right of the landlord to claim and retain the security deposit or any portion of it, either the Hawaii landlord or the Hawaii tenant may bring an action in the Small Claims Division of the Hawaii District Court to adjudicate the matter. In any such action in the Small Claims Division of the Hawaii District Court, the following will apply:
- Where the court determines that the Hawaii landlord wrongfully and willfully retained a security deposit, the court may award the Hawaii tenant damages in an amount equal to three times the amount of the security deposit, or part thereof, wrongfully and willfully retained and the cost of suit; or
- Where the court determines that the Hawaii landlord wrongfully retained a security deposit or part of a security deposit, the court shall award the Hawaii tenant damages in an amount equal to the amount of the security deposit, or part thereof, wrongfully retained and the cost of suit; or
- Where the court determines that the Hawaii landlord was entitled to retain the security deposit or a part of it, the court shall award the Hawaii landlord damages in an amount equal to the amount of the security deposit, or part thereof in dispute and the cost of suit.
As you can see, there are many security deposit issues for a Hawaii landlord to consider when renting a unit in Hawaii.
Contact our Hawaii Real Estate Attorneys today about your commercial or residential leasing needs here in Hawaii. We represent landlords and can help you.
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