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Legal Information: Hawaii

Hawaii Housing Laws

Laws current as of
March 6, 2024

I am a victim of domestic violence. Am I allowed to end my rental agreement early?

You can end your rental agreement (lease) early if both of the following things are true:

  • Your rental agreement is for a period of one year or less; and
  • You or an immediate family member who lives with you has been the victim of domestic violence within the last 90 days.1

1 HRS § 521-80(a)

I live with a victim of domestic violence who wants to end his/her rental agreement, but I want to stay. Am I allowed to?

If the victim of domestic violence is the only tenant, the rental agreement will end on the early termination date.1

If there is more than one tenant who has signed the rental agreement, the fact that the victim of domestic violence is ending his/her part of the rental agreement early doesn’t necessarily mean that the rental agreement has to end for everybody else. If you don’t want to move, you must prove to the landlord that you can pay the rent listed in the rental agreement. The landlord will then decide whether or not to allow the rental agreement to continue.

If the landlord decides that you make enough to cover the rent under the rental agreement, the rental agreement can continue without the domestic violence victim.

If the landlord decides that you can’t pay the rent without the domestic violence victim, the landlord can decide to end the rental agreement for everybody. If that happens, the landlord has to give you at least 14 days of notice. The landlord can’t charge you any fees or penalties for ending the rental agreement early. You must pay the landlord the total amount you owe under the current rental agreement on or before the early termination date.2

1 HRS § 521-80(b)
2 HRS § 521-80(c)

What steps do I need to take to end my rental agreement?

To end your rental agreement, you must give your landlord:

  1.  a “notice of early termination” within 90 days after the domestic violence took place. The notice must:
  • state a specific date that you want the rental agreement to end (terminate); and        
  • be given to the landlord at least 14 days before the end date you specified;
  1. one of the following documents:
  • a certified copy of your restraining order, injunction against harassment, or criminal court documents;
  • documentation from a domestic violence or victim services organization; or
  • documentation from a medical professional, mental health care provider, attorney, advocate, social worker, or member of the clergy. This person must be someone that you asked for help because of the domestic violence.
  1. a written statement describing your reasonable belief that the abuser knows your address – however, you do not need to do this if the abuser lives with you.1

Note: If a tenant knowingly submits a false notice of early termination or supporting documentation to a landlord under this law, the landlord may recover an amount equal to three months’ rent or three times their actual damages, whichever is greater, from the tenant. The landlord can also get the tenant to pay their costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.2

1 HRS § 521-80(a)
2 HRS § 521-80(f)

Until when do I have to pay my rent? Will I be charged a penalty for terminating my lease early?

If you are the only tenant, the rental agreement will end on the early termination date you included in the notice of early termination. You will be responsible for the rent until the termination date, as well as any amount that you already owed the landlord. You must pay the landlord the total amount you owe on or before the termination date.1

Your landlord cannot charge you any penalties or fees and cannot hold you responsible for future rent.2

1 HRS § 521-80(b), (h)
2 HRS § 521-80(a)

What happens to the security deposit if the lease is terminated early? What about prepaid rent?

If the rental agreement has been terminated for all tenants, the security deposit or prepaid rent should be refunded as otherwise required by law after the landlord regains possession of the home.

If one or more tenants is moving out, and one or more tenants is staying, then the security deposit or prepaid rent will be divided up. Any tenants who are moving out will receive a prorated share when their part of the rental agreement ends.

With security deposits, either a judge or the tenants must determine in writing what percentage each tenant will get and give this to the landlord. If there isn’t anything in writing, then the landlord is allowed to give each tenant an equal share of the security deposit once his/her part of the rental agreement ends.1

 1 HRS § 521-80(c)(1), (c)(2)