Anthony Ranken & Associates Sept. 14, 2020

The landlord is supposed to return the security deposit immediately, but they have to provide a letter within 40 days if they intend to keep any of the security deposit. It could be for violations of unpaid rent, or any damage to the property. That letter will have attached invoices and any detailed cost calculations, or at least tell the tenant that those will be provided as soon as they are available. There is no immediate requirement, but the landlord has to return the deposit within 14 days. If the entire deposit is not returned, the landlord must provide a letter detailing why there are deductions. It is also interesting to note that if the landlord does not meet that 14 day deadline, then the tenant is entitled to get their whole deposit back, regardless if there are damages, or deductions prior to the deadline.

When Can My Landlord Keep My Security Deposit?

The landlord can cover any unpaid rent, any damage to the property, or any cleaning fees, and any fees that was required to return the property to its original condition before the tenant moved in.

What Legal Recourse Does Someone Have if The Landlord Illegally Keeps Their Security Deposit?

If the landlord fails to provide the security deposit within 40 days, plus the letter detailing why they have not returned the security deposit, or what deductions are made, then the tenant is entitled to sue the landlord in small claims court for the security deposit. If the landlord is wrongfully and willfully withholding the security deposit, even if the landlord sends the letter within 14 days, but charges the tenant for things they feel they should not be charged for, then the tenant may be entitled to a statutory penalty three times the security deposit. Therefore, instead of the one-month security deposit, they would be entitled to the equivalent of three months.

In Hawaii, neither party is allowed to have a lawyer appear on their behalf where the litigation is over the return of a security deposit. Lawyers are not allowed to handle those cases; it is just pro se between the landlord and the tenant.

When Can a Landlord Legally Enter an Apartment?

The landlord is allowed to enter the premises if there is an emergency without prior notice, but in any other situation, the landlord has to provide a full two days’ notice in writing to the tenant. They must tell them that the landlord will be entering the apartment, and what is the purpose. If this is established even with a two days’ notice, in a way that is designed to harass or be overly burdensome to the tenant, then the tenant may still have a cause of action against the property owner.

What Are the Responsibilities of A Landlord During a Tenancy?

The responsibilities of a landlord are to keep the place in good repair, and promptly fix any plumbing, electric issues, or other problems that would prevent the tenant from enjoyment of their residence. The Hawaii Realtor Standard lease has quite a few tenant responsibilities, but the landlord responsibilities are to provide the premises in an acceptable condition. That is the only thing that is going to be explicit in a lease, but within that are included general repairs or habitable conditions of the property, and obviously not to harass the tenant or interfere with their quiet enjoyment. In short, the landlord is meant to give the tenant complete possession of the property, and not to interfere with that right.

The tenant has the right to treat the property as their home and not to have the landlord’s possessions in there, and not to have a landlord show up unannounced. The landlord is not to disturb the tenant’s use and possession of the property. If the landlord fails to make a repair after the tenant has given them a written request, then the tenant under certain circumstances may make the repairs themselves and deduct it from the rent. I would advise any tenant to call an attorney beforehand, and make sure that it is a situation covered by law, and that they are protected.

What Are the Responsibilities of The Tenant During the Tenancy?

There are all kinds of rules in a lease or a rental agreement. If you want to have a pet, you need the landlord’s permission. For example, to keep the premises in good repair, generally the landlord has to fix things that are broken, but the tenant has an obligation to make sure they treat the home with respect. They need to make sure things do not get broken due to actions of the tenant, and of course pay the rent. If there is an apartment situation, other houses, or units nearby, they need to respect those neighbors, and that can often lead to problems, which can create disturbance within the neighborhood. The landlord may want to evict them because of complaints from other tenants.

Many tenants may want to alter the property, and that should be carefully inspected in terms of what the lease allows. Most of the time, any type of alteration has to be cleared with all property owners. Many tenants may want to sub-lease, or assign their lease for the rest of their term, and those are issues that have to be checked carefully. The property owner needs to be consulted. When you check with a property owner on those situations, have it in writing, by email, a text message, or at least confirmed in writing once you get the landlord’s permission to do something.

For more information on The Security Deposit In a Tenancy, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling today.