Ranken & Shnider, Attorneys at Law Sept. 7, 2020

Mediation is a great option, especially in Maui, because the costs are minimal. I recommend that mediation be explored. Even a judge would recommend mediation. Therefore, if there were good will between both parties, that definitely would be an option. Having attorneys involved can also make the mediation go much smoother. Most attorneys are available to attend mediations on behalf of a client, but the client must attend. Some of these cases do go to court, and the trials usually last a day or two. If a situation occurs where the tenant is not paying rent and the landlord wants to make sure that they do not lose money on the deal, then they should immediately consult an attorney who can file suit on their behalf. You must give the required 45-day notice before filing if rent is not paid.

The matter can be discussed, or mediated once that is accomplished. However, if it is a situation where the tenant is paying rent, or there are other factors causing the dispute, then the landlord is not really in danger of losing money. In that case, it might make sense to try mediating before filing. It still would not hurt to give the 45-day notice to terminate tenancy, and then discuss possible mediation or settlement negotiations to resolve the conflict. The landlord has to comply with the rules, and if the landlord does not take the initial step of sending the appropriate form letter, which we can draft for them, then they will have lost time if the dispute cannot be settled.

From the tenant’s point of view, if there were issues with the landlord, it would make sense to contact an attorney for advice and be informed of one’s rights. We suggest to the landlord mediation with or without counsel. In that situation, no attorney is present that would only happen if the matter were already in court pending trial. There is a mediation service in Maui, which is very low cost, Mediation Services of Maui. They are available for these types of situations. When we file a lawsuit, and the other party gives their answer, there is a mediator present in the courtroom and the judge will suggest that both parties meet with that mediator. The judge does play an active role in terms of trying to get the parties into mediation to resolve their differences even if there is no hope of repairing the relationship. Mediation can still result in a compromise, which can save both parties time, attorney fees, and give them some certainty and control over the process.

For example, they might agree on a certain move out date, which goes on record within the court system, and then the case is closed for a certain amount of money, which is usually a compromised amount.

How Much Notice Does a Tenant Need to Give Legally Before Moving Out?

A tenant can move out whenever they want, but they have to pay rent for 28 days after notice is given to the landlord. It is statutory, this is the Hawaii residential landlord tenant code, and law dictates the answers to these questions. No real estate rental agreement, no monthly rental agreement, or other lease can overrule the statute in the case of residential leases or rentals.

How Much Advance Notice Must the Landlord Provide if He or She Wants the Tenant to Move Out?

The landlord must give a 45-day notice. If it is a month-to-month tenancy and if there is a lease, the landlord cannot evict the tenant before the end of the lease, unless there has been a violation of that lease.

Can a Landlord Charge a Late Fee if Rent Is Delayed?

A landlord can charge a late fee, but only if it is in the rental agreement.

When Can a Landlord Raise the Rent?

It is just like in an eviction, the landlord can give 45 days’ notice to raise the rent, but this is for month-to-month tenancies. The rent may not be raised in the period of a long term lease. If the lease is for 6 months to a year, the landlord can only raise that rent when the lease is over, or when it is up for renewal.

Is There a Limit on The Security Deposit a Landlord Can Charge?

The only security deposit that is allowed in residential lease is one month’s rent value deposit. It is provided under statute and it cannot be violated.

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